Alteration of attitudes and work behaviour

Dear Editor,

Recently, the Guyana Police Force conducted what it called its Inaugural Integrity in Policing Symposium at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre. I am not certain what the objective/objectives were. However, I read excerpts of the presentations by the Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs and the Top Cop. After speaking with some participants, I got the impression that the thrust of the symposium was about attitude and behaviour of members of the Force.

It is so nice to know that the Police are attempting to address and influence the behaviour of their members which has constantly come into serious public criticism. As a retired member of the Force who has an abiding interest in law enforcement, I wish to posit some free advice on integrity for the Police.

A simple definition for integrity is the steadfast adherence to an ethical code. According to Wayne W Bennett and Karen M Hess in their book Management and Supervision of Law Enforcement, “ Ethical codes usually have at least three important themes: Justice and fairness is the dominant theme. Officers are not to take advantage of people or accept gratuities; Because of the importance of law and the Police as tools of the Constitution, law enforcement behaviour must be totally within the bounds set by the law; At all times, law enforcement officers must uphold a standard of behaviour consistent with their public position. “A good starting point to promote ethical behaviour and integrity is to eliminate the code of silence: “The code of silence encourages members of the Force not to speak up when they see another member doing something wrong.” Fulton (2000) stresses: “Police Commanders must exemplify the honesty and integrity they seek in their subordinates.” In addition: “Ethical mentoring and role modelling should be consistent, frequent and visible.”

McCarthy (2000) presents seven steps that can help prevent unethical behaviour and promote integrity: “(1) Recruit with great care. (2) Establish appropriate policies and put them in writing. (3) Adopt a good employee evaluation process. (4) Make sure your Sergeants share management’s values and philosophies. (5) Develop operational controls. (6) Perform regular anti-corruption inspections and audits. And (7) implement ethics and integrity training into every training activity.”

Change involves alteration of attitudes and work behaviour as individuals, as team members and as members of the department. If Police are not self-developed or developed by leaders at all levels, where will the future leaders come from? The groups of people that have the most ability to create an organisational culture based on integrity are the subordinate officers. True, they may not be able to change the department but they can change their squad; Inspectors and junior officers may not be able to change the department but they can change the large number of ranks under their control. At some point these subordinate officers, Inspectors and junior officers will be the regional division and other Commanders – the senior officers, where they may be able to change the department. Focus heavily on them.


Clinton Conway

Assistant Commissioner


Police (Retired)