Major shake-up in Police Force as Hicken officially takes over as Top Cop

Newly appointed acting Commissioner of Police, Clifton Hicken, on Wednesday officially took over the helm of the Guyana Police Force with major changes in the senior management of the country’s premier law enforcement agency.
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Dr Irfaan Ali, on Monday announced Hicken’s appointment as acting Police Commissioner after his predecessor, Nigel Hoppie, who was also acting as Top Cop, proceeded on pre-retirement leave on Sunday last.

Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn meeting with newly appointed acting Police Commissioner Clifton Hicken

Hicken officially commenced duties in the new post on Wednesday, and according to a statement from the Police Force’s Corporate Communications Unit, several changes were immediately made in the command structure of the Force.
Prior to his appointment to the helm of the Force, Hicken was performing the duties of Deputy Commissioner ‘Operations’. Senior Superintendent Ravindradat Budhram, who headed the Special Branch, will now take over the post that was left vacant by the new Top Cop.
Commander of Police Regional Division 3 (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), Senior Superintendent Errol Watts, will now Head the Special Branch; while his replacement at the divisional level in Region Three would be Senior Superintendent Mahendra Siewnarine.
Commander Woman Superintendent Denise Griffith has been relocated from Regional Division 2 (Pomeroon-Supenaam) and will now head Regional Division 4 ’B’ (East Bank Demerara), which was left vacant by the departure of Senior Supt Siewnarine.
Additionally, Superintendent Shivpersaud Bacchus, who served as the Force’s Training Officer at Eve Leary, will take over as Commander of Regional Division #2. His replacement at the Training Centre will temporarily be Superintendent Kiethon King, who previously performed duties as Second in-Command Regional Division #4 ’B’.
Meanwhile, one of Hicken’s first tasks upon assuming office on Wednesday was meeting with Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn. During the engagement at the Ministry’s Secretariat on Brickdam, Georgetown, the two officials discussed a “new strategic plan” for the Police Force.
Hicken has served in senior capacities within the Police Force throughout his career, which spans more than two decades. Prior to his appointment as Deputy Commissioner with responsibility for Operations in August 2020, He was seconded to the Department of Citizenship in 2019 under the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government.
Known for his dynamic style of management, Hicken was also quite popular during his reign as Commander of Divisions A (Georgetown/East Bank and East Coast Demerara) and B (Berbice) before they were converted into regional divisions. He was well known for his outreaches into communities and interactions with members of the public.
However, his appointment has not gone down well within some quarters, with the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) – the leading party in the APNU/AFC Opposition – issuing a statement on Monday, calling it illegal and unconstitutional.
PNC, in their statement, reminded that Article 211 (1) of the Constitution requires meaningful consultation with the Opposition Leader and Chairperson of the Police Service Commission (PSC).
However, Guyana has been without an Opposition Leader since January of 2022, when former Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon resigned the role. Harmon further resigned from Parliament itself earlier this month.
PNCR Leader Aubrey Norton has been named as his replacement, but he is yet to even step foot in Parliament despite vacancies left by Harmon and Coalition Member of Parliament Nicolette Henry, who resigned to make way for Norton in the National Assembly.
On Wednesday, Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs, told <<Guyana Times>> that Speaker Manzoor Nadir has dispatched a letter to Representative of the APNU/AFC List of Candidates, former President and former PNCR Leader David Granger, for him to activate the process to select two new MPs.
Granger would have to write the Chief Elections Officer of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Vishnu Persaud, indicating to him the two new names that are to be extracted from the Coalition’s list to be appointed to the National Assembly.
Meanwhile, the PNC’s threats to challenge Hicken’s appointment have been dismissed by Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall SC, who argued that the President is completely justified in going ahead with the appointment of an acting Top Cop in the absence of those he has to consult with, since the Guyana Police Force cannot be left headless. (G8)