The police have their work cut out
Jun 19, 2016 – Kaieteur News- Features / Columnists, Adam Harris
The jubilee is over, but there were things that lingered. One of them is the focus on the government. In the run-up to the jubilee there was a focus on the things being uncovered by the forensic audits. There were gross irregularities, monumental embarrassments, and a casual display of irresponsibility when it came to public funds.
The wider public read about these things and wondered about the absence of prosecution. Deputy Chef de Mission of the United States embassy, Bryan Hunt, openly said that there should be prosecutions. He posited that if he were to fiddle with state funds and get away with it, then there was nothing to stop his successors from doing the same.
With this in mind, I opted to ask the government spokesman about the apparent absence of prosecutions given the findings of the audit. I learnt that the auditors may find something that may not necessarily be enough for a prosecution; that the police would then have to pick up where the auditors left off. They are going to have to look for the details that would support prosecution.
I can understand that, but what I cannot understand is the length of time it is going to take the police to put the pieces together. I know that they are not heavy on resources. They have had to be involved in so many investigations.
The investigators are people who may not have finished at the top of their schools’ academic list. Had they done much better they would not have been in the police force, although there are people who did very well academically and who have opted to join the police force.
These are the people who have to undertake the criminal investigations, and there have been many. For one, there have been so many robberies (and high profile ones at that) that the police had their resources stretched very thin.
There was the robbery on the Princess Hotel Casino. Fortunately, one of the perpetrators was captured and so paved the way for the arrest of the others. But there were other robberies that tested the police. There was the faked robbery by a group of security guards. The police solved that one rather quickly, but again, manpower was demanded.
There were the cold cases that defied the odds. Six years earlier a woman named Babita Sarjou was killed. Her killers almost escaped because the police failed to find a clue. In comes the new breed of investigators, and in a flash, they cracked that case. All the while the forensic audits were being released.
It is against this background that the public wants the government to hurry up and add the finishing touches to the audit findings. Here I sympathise with the police, who I am sure do not have too many people with accounting skills. This is where Mathematics is so important.
All too often I run into people who say that they did not do well at Maths. These are people who are reporters, nurses, clerks, lawyers and of course, policemen. Some contend that they do not need Mathematics to do their job, but this is where they are wrong. The policemen who are being called on to unravel the findings of the forensic audits now realize this.
Of course, I developed an even greater respect for the police when they kept the jubilee celebrations crime-free. I would say about 20,000 Guyanese who live overseas actually came home. They had come with the knowledge that Guyana was crime-infested. For them to go back home without encountering any criminal activity must have done wonders with their heads.
Meanwhile, this brand new unit, the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) is not without resources. It is also an arm of the police. I have learnt that it has people who are good at deciphering figures, and they have already identified people who should be charged.
I now ask myself what might have happened if there was no change in Government. Mr Bryan Hunt identified the good things that the previous government did—and there were many. However, when I see how much was pilfered from the treasury, I wonder about the level of development that the nation missed.
One thing I hear people saying is that the economy has slowed; that no one is doing business. This is not true. There may not be many home constructions at this time, because those who were using the extra money they have, are now being ultra-cautious.
It could be that the anti-money laundering laws have got some of them very nervous. There have been people smuggling funds out of the country by way of jewellery. These would have been the people who used the money they got to keep doing things that made it seem as if the economy was doing so well.
The Central Bank says that the economy is doing well enough; the car dealers say that they are not doing badly and the business places say that shopping has not dropped so much. The job market has not grown that much, although during the run-up to the jubilee, there were many working at the lower level of the society.
These were the people who cleaned the streets and avenues, built the stands at the D’Urban Park Jubilee Park, and who sold the momentos that the visitors simply gobbled up.
The government is riding on a high, but those disclosures by the audits must be acted on.