MINISTER of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, has confirmed that the Guyana Police Force is moving in the direction of having frequent and random polygraph tests for its commanders, branch heads and other officers.
The tests however will not apply to the Commissioner of Police, Leslie James, and his four deputies, Nigel Hoppie, Paul Williams, Maxine Graham and Lyndon Alves. Ramjattan confirmed this during an interview on Monday where he was asked to comment on the practice. He said regular polygraph testing is a feature which has been ongoing in many police forces and services around the world. “It is part and parcel of the vetting process and to enhance the integrity of the organisation so that we prevent those kinds of things like what happened at SOCU- Special Organised Crime Unit” Ramjattan explained. The minister said that the tests will target officers who are in some very key positions but those positions will not include those in the top command of the force. In fact, the Ministry of Public Security would be relying on the advice of those in the top command, namely the Commissioner and his deputies to recommend the officers who should be subjected to the tests.
“That is something we will have to work out with the police administration because they are in a better position and better equipped to identify the individuals and areas which should be focused on also,” the minister noted.
Ramjattan told this publication that the process is a very expensive one but it nevertheless has to be done as the government wishes to prevent similar occurrences like the one that has taken place at the Special Organised Crime Unit. Last year the force commenced an audit into the operations of the Special Organised Crime Unit after claims that administrative funds were being mismanaged by the agency head, Assistant Commissioner Sydney James, a former Army senior officer who was seconded to the Guyana Police and made to head the unit under the PPP administration.
On Monday the security minister said that at the moment government is not in the position to internally conduct the polygraph tests of officers but assured that systems are being put in place to have a core group of persons locally who can conduct the tests as against Guyana outsourcing the service.
Reference was made by the minister about utilising the services of the United States. He said assistance for this round of the examination would also come from specialists out of Jamaica. “It must be done, it’s an expensive exercise but I want to see it implemented, look these things are best practices and they are done in almost every other police force around the world, those who do not want to do it will be in violation of the policy and those violations will have consequences” the Security Minister explained.
This not the first time that persons involved in the local law enforcement arm would have been subjected to such tests. A few years ago the tests were conducted and resulted in a number of very senior officers from the Guyana revenue Authority and Customs anti-Narcotics being sent packing after they failed the test.