Persons should not be arrested for minor offences, use summons – Traffic Chief
Ranks of the Guyana Police Force’s Traffic Department have been instructed not to arrest road users for minor offences that are not ‘ticket able’, and instead, issue summonses to prosecute those traffic offenders.
This was revealed by the Traffic Chief, Superintendent Ramesh Ashram, during the second edition of the ‘Police and You’ radio programme on Tuesday evening.
Ashram explained that he has also instructed ranks from his department not to randomly stop vehicles and check for documents, unless there is reasonable suspicion to do so.
“Since my assumption as the [Chief] Traffic Officer in August 2020, my policy is clear, and that of the Force: traffic ranks are being instructed not to stop drivers and check for documents; not to arrest persons for minor offences; take names and addresses and proceed by the way of summons. If the offence warrants a ticket, issue a ticket, and if you breach these simple SOPs – the Standard Operating Procedures – of the Force, you will be dealt with for disobeying the lawful orders,” the Traffic Chief indicated.
When contacted on Wednesday for clarity on his comments, the Traffic Chief pointed out that unless there is reasonable suspicion, ranks should not randomly stop vehicles.
“Don’t go on the road and put up your hand and stop a vehicle from the line and ask for documents,” Ashram reiterated to the traffic cops.
However, the Traffic Chief pointed out that if officers observe road users committing an offence, then they are empowered to approach and take the necessary actions.
Ashram went on to assure the public that the Guyana Police Force does not take the misbehaviour of its ranks lightly, since, on a daily basis, they are being told what they must and must not do. As such, he encourages road users to file complaints against ranks who are being vindictive and harassing them.
“I want to assure the public, or, I’m appealing to the public, not to be afraid. When you have conflict with the Police, or you are in doubt, or you believe that you’ve been wrongfully arrested or being wrongly issued with a ticket or so on, come forward,” he said.
Persons are urged to file their complaints with either the Divisional Traffic Chiefs in their respective regions and/or the Commander there.
The Traffic Chief noted that there is an open-door policy between the police and the public.
Further, Ashram posited that the Police Force has zero-tolerance against corruption and bribery. In addition to urging road users to adhere to the rules and laws to prevent them from having to be pulled over by the cops, Ashram again implored that they report any rank who tries to solicit bribes.
“If any road user encounters problems with Police who are trying to extract money from them as it relates to traffic offences that they’ve committed, the Force’s policy is clear, that there is zero-tolerance for corruption and bribery. So, you feel free [to report it]; get the name of the Police, come and report it to any senior officer of the Force,” Ashram posited.
He said the public does not have to report matters to the Traffic Chief, they can even go to the Commander of the Region.
This issue was also raised during the ‘call-in’ segment of the live radio programme, when a caller complained that traffic officers often “stop and harass” him for documents. The caller also revealed that he is often a victim of “fleecing”, whereby cops ask him to “bless” them with some money. The caller claimed, too, that he raised the issue with a Divisional Commander who asked him to provide video evidence of his allegations, which he did, but the matter was never followed through.
In response, the Traffic Chief said he is unaware of the issue. But, again, encouraged persons to continue reporting these instances to the Police.
“You’ll find some of these rogue ranks will go out with one intention and continue the behaviour…Reporting them is good by the phone or social media, but it is good if you could come forward so that we can take action against them,” he said.
These matters are usually dealt with by the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), which is called in to investigate misdemeanors of ranks. But according to the Traffic Chief, one of the challenges the Police face with these complaints is that the persons who file them often fail to follow-up.
Nevertheless, he said that once these investigations are carried out and the traffic rank is found to be culpable, that officer is either removed from the Traffic Department or is relocated to another location.
Meanwhile, the Traffic Chief even provided his office number (227-2272) to the public for them to contact him if they encounter any issues with ranks from his Division. (G8)