…President says next police chief must have integrity, intelligence
THE days of concealing security sector mistakes and misdeeds are over, the Guyana Police Force officers will be held accountable for the consequences of their actions and the instructions they issue to their subordinates.
This assertion was made by President David Granger during his address to members of the newly appointment Police Service Commission (PSC) on Thursday at State House. Those appointed to the constitutional body are: retired assistant commissioners Paul Slowe, Clinton Conway, Vesta Adams and Claire Jarvis along with Public Service Commission Chairman, Attorney Michael Sommersal.
Slowe was sworn in as Chairman of the Commission. President Granger said after meaningful consultation with the Leader of the opposition and chairperson of the Police Service Commission there will be an appointment of a Commissioner of Police soon. He said government’s plan for the security sector reform includes the appointment of the Top Cop with four Deputy Commissioners of Police.
The Head of State said that the next Top Cop should possess the qualities of intelligence, impartiality and integrity. “I don’t give orders to the Commissioner of Police, but I want somebody who is ‘Unbribable’, somebody who is intelligent and somebody who is committed to carrying out the programme of security sector reform, who has the initiative and who can generate public trust,” the President said.
Underscoring the need for more professional officers and the need for intelligence gathering, the President said the commission’s independent status can contribute to enhancing public trust in the force and boosting the moral of officers while ensuring the efficacy of law enforcement.
“I intend to appoint a Guyanese…I think Guyanese need a Commissioner they can look up to and I expect that he will be supported by four deputy commissioners. We haven’t had four deputy commissioners for a long time and the hierarchy has been flat, everybody is of the same rank,” the president stated.
He said the advancement of officers should be based on merit and discipline and dismissal should be applied fairly to encourage good conduct. “There will be in the Force, a core of senior officers committed to effective police administration, operations, investigations and intelligence gathering to ensure sound leadership to subordinate officers and constables and to evincing the virtues of intelligence and integrity and being capable of securing the public’s trust,” he explained.
He said the appointment of the commission is essential to GPF efficiency and State security as the Guyana Police Force is the principal agency of the state concerned with law enforcement. Quoting from the Constitution 197 (a), President Granger said the Police Force which under the Police Act shall function in accordance with the law as the law enforcement agency of the State responding daily to maintain law and order in suppressing crime, to ensure citizens are safe in their homes, streets and other places.
He said the Police Act section 3 (2) tasks the Police Force with the prevention and detection of crime, the preservation of law and order, preservation of the peace, the repression of internal disturbance, due enforcement of all law and regulations and the apprehension of offenders.
President Granger said that the GPF can fulfill these tasks effectively only if it is commanded by a core of officers who are competent, committed and incorruptible. “The Forces most senior officers must be men and women of proven independence, integrity and intelligence. The Force must be able to enjoy the trust of the public,” he said.
Underscoring that the Police Service Commission has the power to make appointments in the Police Force of or above the rank of inspector, the Head of State said the commission also has the power to exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in such positions, including their removal. “Very powerful indeed, power to be exercised prudently,” the President noted. With the security sector reform, the President said future appointees will vigorously carry out the approved reforms aimed at restoring public trust in the Force while fighting crime.
The Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces also said that the public’s trust in the Police Force and the need for Security Sector Reform have become more urgent following the presentation of the report into the circumstances surrounding the killing of eight miners at Lindo Creek on or about 21st day of June 2008, commonly referred to as the Report of the Lindo Creek Commission of Inquiry.
“That Report raised troubling questions about the role of the Defence and Police Forces during the ‘troubles’ and the reticence of the political administration of the day to provide useful evidence to the Commission of Inquiry into the massacre. The ‘troubles’ was a dark period in our country’s history. The inability of the Police to arrest the outbreak of criminal violence quickly led to the emergence of so-called ‘phantom’ death squads. The ‘troubles’ revealed, also, how drug lords had infiltrated the Force. The ‘troubles’ exposed the influence of a small but influential group of rogue officers. It revealed the need for more careful selection of officers and improved intelligence gathering. The report’s recommendations will be acted upon in due course. The days of concealing security sector mistakes and misdeeds are over. The Force’s officers will be held accountable for the consequences of their actions and for the instructions they issue to their subordinates,” he said.