POLICE Commissioner Seelall Persaud has reiterated that at no time should anyone be placed in the police lockups for any minor offence; and he has reminded his officers that any deviation from that Force policy can be considered a breach of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) of the Guyana Police Force.Persaud is adamant that this aspect of the GPF policy should see strict adherence by every rank on duty: No person should be arrested and placed in the police lockups for any minor offence.
He reminded that the applicable procedure should be that the person is arrested, briefly detained, and granted station bail while investigations into the reported offence are completed.
The Police Commissioner reiterated this position when reporters asked him to comment on the abuse of members of the public by police ranks, and the excessive use of force.
He also reminded reporters that the police force has a system by which such cases are dealt with, and he said they are done in a very thorough and speedy manner of recent.
He made reference to a case in which a police rank, upon arriving for duty in the West Demerara division, took it upon himself to throw methylated spirits on a prisoner who was sitting on the bench. He said the matter was investigated and the police rank was fired within a month of the investigation, after it was found that he had acted outside the ambit of the Standard Operating Procedures of the Force, and outside of the normal standards by which police ranks ought to treat members of the public and those in their custody.
The Top Cop also reminded of the procedures which ought to be followed once a prisoner or someone in custody complains of experiencing pain or of feeling unwell.
He said: “If there are cries of pain, then the person should be taken for medical attention and examination. Depending on the results, a senior police officer would determine if the person should remain in custody, and that should be determined depending on the gravity of the offence.”
Members of the media, and by extension the Guyanese society, have been assured by Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud that investigations into the death of 28-year-old Zaharadeen Razan, father of three and of Cornelia Ida, West Coast Demerara, have not been closed. According to the Top Cop, the police on duty at the Parika Police Station on the day in question did nothing that was inappropriate to the individual.
The Top Cop was, however, quick to point out that that aside, the Force is still conducting its internal investigations to ascertain if ranks had, at any point, been negligent in their duties. He spoke specifically of determining whether ranks on duty that morning were aware of what was ongoing in the lock-ups at the station but failed to act accordingly.
“In this latest cause, as you are aware, the police did nothing inappropriately to the individual; but if there were cases of neglect, if the police knew what was going on in the lock-ups and did not take the appropriate action, we have to find out,” Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud told the media.
Zaharadeen Razan of Cornelia Ida, West Coast Demerara was arrested and placed in police custody after a report of damage to property had been made against him. He died on the way to the Leonora Cottage Hospital after other prisoners in the Parika lock-ups had alerted ranks on duty that the man had been bashing his head against the walls of the lockups and had suffered a seizure.
A post-mortem confirmed that the man had died as a result of a seizure, and that he had also had a blunt trauma to the head which was consistent with the seizure.
In Zaharadeen Razan’s case, it is unclear if the offence of damage to property had been considered a minor offence, and if the man had been considered as posing a threat to the life and limb of anyone who had been released from police custody after he had been arrested for the offence. The police can, on those grounds, determine if it is safe to allow the arrested person to return to the community, or remain in custody with the objective being to protect the life and limb of other citizens.
(By Leroy Smith)