A VERY stern Clement Rohee, the Minister of Home Affairs, on Friday called on supervisors and junior ranks of the Guyana Police Force to immediately desist from carrying out the illegal functions of “travelling magistrates” on the country’s roadways, and rather engage in the prevention and enforcement aspects of their duties.
Minister Rohee blasted ranks of the Force who perform traffic duties and who account for the highest level of corruption of the Force. While delivering the feature address at the opening of a junior officers’ course at the Guyana Police Force Training College, Rohee told ranks of what his findings are with respect to traffic officers while he addressed the need for the police to focus on better traffic management.
Travelling magistrates could be described (in the case of police traffic ranks) as members of the GPF who would stop a vehicle, discover that the driver is guilty of a traffic offence or has breached a traffic regulation, and rather than writing a charge and sending that person to court or cause him to pay a ticket fine, a travelling magistrate just decides to overlook the offence or breach and receive money from the errant motorist without processing him, but pocketing the cash demanded from that person.
The minister spoke confidently on the issue while directing ranks of the Force to visit the Ministry of Home Affair’s IPAIDABRIBE.GY Website where they would find that the Guyana Police Force Traffic Department is the government agency which attracts the most reported cases of receiving bribes from members of the public.
Rohee called on the junior officers and middle managers of the Force to discourage the practice among the subordinates.
Earlier this Week, Justice Cecil Kennard, who heads the Police Complaints Authority, said the practice is mostly carried out by very junior ranks serving in the Traffic Department.
Rohee reminded senior officers of the Guyana Police Force and middle managers that the public was continuously looking forward for better service from the Guyana Police Force and other law enforcement agencies.
Rohee said the issue of traffic management is one of several other issues which touch the core of policing, and should be the subject of serious consideration at all levels of the force, more particularly at the middle level management of its organisational structure.
Rohee, who has political oversight of the Guyana Police Force, said there can be no denial by Guyanese that there needs to be collaboration to improve the traffic situation in this country.
He posited that the statistics with respect to the number of road accidents and deaths is unacceptable and needs urgent attention, as he reviewed the figures in comparison.
Traffic accidents affect families in a personal way, the minister said, pointing to the recent case on the Corentyne coast where three persons from one family died because of the actions of an allegedly drunken driver. This prompted Rohee to renew longstanding calls for a combination of enforcement and education as the way to deal with road accidents.
There have been many calls for police ranks to desist from the “shaking down” practice, which seems to have become a normal culture within the Force by ranks performing traffic duties and those in general duties as well.
The calls to desist were made by Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, President Donald Ramotar, members of the Private Sector Commission and other prominent individuals and organisations.
In the past, “shakedown” allegations were also levelled against ranks of the Force by tourists visiting Guyana.
(By Leroy Smith)