– says Minister Benn
CHARGES are likely to be instituted against the taxi driver, who was involved in a physical altercation with a traffic policeman at New Amsterdam, which was captured on camera.
This is according to Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn, who commented on the matter on the sidelines of an event on Wednesday.
In a video that is circulating on social media, the two are seen in a scuffle and are trading punches. Reports are that the taxi driver began assaulting the policeman as he was attempting to arrest him. The policeman then retaliated.
“The taxi driver assaulted a peace officer and that, as far as I’m aware, is a charge under Guyana’s laws. The taxi driver, I believe too, was being engaged by the police officer because he was blocking the road or making some kind of traffic infringement and was not co-operating. So that appeared to be, basically, the issue,” Minister Benn said.
It is unclear what the charges will be; however, under Section 46 (b) of the Criminal Law Offenders Act Chapter 8:01, an offender who assaults, obstruct, or resist any peace officer acting in the execution of their duty, or any person acting in aid of that officer, if found guilty can be liable for up to two years’ imprisonment at the discretion of the magistrate.
The minister used the opportunity to urge the public to record their interactions with the police either by video or audio, which could increase accountability, transparency and public trust.
“When there is any interaction with the police force, good or bad, that person should take out their cellphones and make a video and audio recording of the interaction,” he reaffirmed.
He further explained that these simple actions will go a long way toward helping the nation to avoid uncalled-for behaviour and bringing it to the attention of the police community.
On Tuesday, the Commissioner of Police (ag) Clifton Hicken, issued a statement expressing his dissatisfaction with the incident. He said that an investigation will be done with some degree of alacrity in an effort to mitigate that type of behaviour.
He also appealed to the public to co-operate with the police, and vice versa in order to assist in the delivery of justice.
“The police does (sic) not and cannot operate in isolation, thus the need for partnership and co-operation between the police and the public – one that should be premised on mutual trust and co-operation while exploring every avenue to maintain law and order in society,” he said.
He also stressed that the police force is working on postures and strict adherence to SOPs aimed at ensuring that ranks are professional in the discharge of their duties, even in the face of harassment and intimidation from non-cooperating civilians.
The police force had rolled out Portable Video Recording (PVR) devices also known as body cameras to increase accountability and improve public trust.
If an incident occurs during the rank’s time on duty, the footage will be reviewed for evidential value. The footage will also be archived for a period in the event a report is made against the officer.
The initiative was first introduced in 2015 and has been expanded to all 12 police divisions.
Recently, there have been several instances where civilians are either attacking or verbally abusing police officers. Video footage captured will provide better documentation of the nature of events and support accounts articulated by both officers and civilians.