While addressing the Guyana Police Force’s annual awards ceremony, caretaker President Granger said, “People want a Force they can trust”. Well, he’d said the same thing when he was running for office in 2011 – and again in 2015. In fact, study after study over the years had shown that out of all the public institutions in Guyana, the Police Force was the LEAST TRUSTED!! At its most benign, the word “police” connoted “bribery” and “harassment” to the John and Jane public!!
The findings are rather demoralising seeing that the Police is the institution that interacts most pervasively day in, day out with the public. And when one considers that they literally have the power of life and death over the said public – the only institution authorised to use lethal force in the course of their duty – it’s also very frightening. Ironically, only the day before Granger’s observation, two Policemen – sons of a senior Police Officer! – had been fingered by a youth for TORTURING him.
The incident epitomised the arrogance of the Police towards the public. Seems that someone had broken into the home of the cops and stolen some items. Either acting upon information received or their own suspicions of “known” characters in the area, in the company of two carloads of friends or other Policemen in civvies, armed with crowbars and pieces of wood, they grabbed the young man in public and transported him to their house, mafia-style, in the trunk of one of the cars.
There, they proceeded to handcuff him, shackle him to a bed and beat him mercilessly to confess to the crime. Also mafia style! When that proved unsuccessful, they doused him with boiling water from a kettle which severely scalded the youth. Yet no confession. Finally, they bundled him into the trunk of the car once again and were driving to some bushy, secluded spot where the youth figured he was going to be executed but managed to escape.
Granger had emphasised his years in the Security Sector and, surrounding himself with others from that section, insisted on the campaign trail he was the man who could restore trust in the Police. He proceeded to purge the entire inherited top brass of the Force and installed his own “incorruptible” men – while going on a massive recruitment drive to bring the Force up to its 4900 top strength.
But what has he achieved?? Did giving out 2700 awards – more than half of the Force’s strength – reflect the reality of their performance?? Or was it a reflection of his politicisation of the Force along the lines of what his mentor Burnham had achieved??
Isn’t this why the people still distrust the Police??
Guyanese love to boast about the religious “harmony” in our dear, old mud land. After all, hadn’t Burnham given those “others” their quaint religious festivals such as Diwali, Eid, Youman Nabi and Phagwah as holidays?? But beneath that patina of bonhomie, at best, the reality was “tolerance” and never “acceptance” of the ways of the “other”. That was beyond the pale to the fundamentalists who defined them as “heathens”.
This was brought out vividly in the reaction of a popular singing Christian tele-Pastor, Kester Deane, to the horrific accident at Mahaicony that took five lives. The fella highlighted some Jhandi flags near the scene and wrote:
“Those who have eyes to see, the people are being offered up as sacrifices in this country. The road carnage, fires, aeroplanes crashes, suicide, school bullying, river mishaps, domestic violence, robberies and murder…Y’all still think this is normal? CHURCH WAKE UP! And take back this country”!!
After being called out, he “apologised” and promised:
“I shall be more calculating, carefully sensitive, and committed to the workings of my mind…”
Imagine that…”more calculating”!!
Congress has voted to impeach Trump. But can charges even be BROUGHT here against Granger for instructing our rep at the UN to abstain on the UNCLOS vote – to please Venezuela??