President Granger calls out corrupt police officers – By Adam Harris

President Granger calls out corrupt police officers

By Adam Harris

President David Granger’s address to the annual police officers’ conference was revealing. It highlighted the fact that the head of state was unhappy with the level of corruption in the force. In venting his unhappiness, he apportioned blame from the top to the bottom.

A fish rots from the head, he said. He continued that when one sees corruption at the bottom, it is because it is encouraged from the top. He spoke of senior officers who actually support the corruption by the junior ranks.   

Indeed the very police force has been trying to grapple with the corruption to the extent that it sacked a number of corrupt ranks. But at the same time, the very force would simply transfer or demote some of them caught in corrupt acts.

Of interest is the officer who was caught with a quantity of smuggled whisky. Had I been the person caught I would have been prosecuted and probably jailed by now. This officer is still out there somewhere. President Granger did not fail to notice this fact.

From my point of view, the police are the people who make us sleep at nights without a worry in the world. On occasions they tracked down criminals with unprecedented haste, suggesting that they had a handle on some criminals.

Many who have had brushes with the law say that often, policemen are behind these crimes. This was the case of the shooting to death of a businessman in Kitty. It was not long after this businessman was shot that his assailant was arrested. The policeman making the arrest was up to then the Runner-up Best Cop. This should have been another feather in his cap.

Then the news came that this very policeman was involved in the shooting death. He was said to be a policeman who gave drugs to people on the road to sell for him. How could this have happened even as the force was evaluating this policeman? Someone in the hierarchy had to be aware and was probably a recipient of the spoils.

This is not the only case. Criminals have accused policemen of running a ring of drug pushers. Some of them even became hired guns for drug lords and big businessmen. Policemen offering protection to business entities is nothing new. But they have compromised themselves to the extent that if the businessman runs afoul of the law, prosecution is often flawed.

Now we have the dismantling of a ring of carjackers. At least two ex-policemen are involved to the extent that one of them has been charged with armed robbery. This is a case of a man sworn to serve and to protect the people of Guyana, attacking the very people whom he swore to serve and to protect.

There is the saying that many who enter the force are criminal-minded individuals who merely infiltrate the system to learn the skills and how to defeat the very system. Some have used their weapons as tools for hire and collected money from the robberies in which the weapon was used.

Some have actually smuggled weapons from the force and put them on the road, even as their colleagues are in an uphill battle to remove guns from the streets.

President Granger in that address on Thursday said that many of these policemen, through their corruption, caused the death of their colleagues. He has reasons to deal with corruption in the force. There was a report of a threat to kill him. A commission found that the investigation was at worst, inept. Senior police officers did not take the threat seriously. In fact, the police commissioner was tainted.

He was on leave but he called a subordinate to release one of the men fingered in the alleged threat. The commission found that he did not act in the best interest of the force. He will leave the force under a cloud.

If Guyana had a tax system like, for example, the United States, many senior police officers would have been jailed. They have posh homes that their salary could not buy. That would suggest that they got money from other sources.

The situation is in the open but this will in no way end the corruption. A woman is charged with killing somebody on the roadway. It took a long time to get her to court. When she goes, it transpires that evidence was removed from her files.

I am not going to talk to the low level of corruption of policemen demanding payment on the roads in lieu of prosecution for infractions. I am not going to talk about those who take money for no reason at all. These are the ranks who operate roadblocks.

Guyana is a small society; everything is exposed some time or the other. People talk about calling the police after a robbery but failing to get a response. Hours later, people would report that a police patrol was not far away. The conclusion is that the very police patrol was in on the robbery.

There was an attempted robbery on Republic Bank. One of the perpetrators was killed and some others arrested. Among those arrested were policemen. We hear that had a security guard service not been on hand the robbers, had they succeeded, would have escaped, because the policemen would have diverted any chase.

Mr. Granger may not be aware of all these things, but he knows that there is corruption. The unfortunate thing is that there is no credible unit in the force to charge the corrupt among them. Indeed the members of such a unit would be seriously threatened, because one does not squeal on one’s colleagues.

In the United States, there have been reports of the investigative unit being targeted and members even killed. The solution to the problem therefore lies with the wider society, with people who are privy to information. Some of them may even feed the corruption.

As the saying goes, not every apple in the barrel is bad. We have had cases of people reporting substantial bribes being offered to them. Last week, a man was sent to jail for offering money to a Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit officer.

We have had the case of a woman offering millions of dollars to a police rank to botch the prosecution of a relative who was accused of being involved in a murder. But these few are overshadowed by the majority. President Granger knew what he was saying.

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