Govt will support GPF’s efforts to strengthen relations with the public

─ President urges police to be respectful to citizens

President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, said his government will continue to support the efforts of the Guyana Police Force in strengthening its relationship with the public.

While commending the progress made thus far in this regard, the Head of State said the concept of ‘One Guyana’ depends heavily on a country that is secure and stable, and with persons who believe that those who are entrusted with their security are professional.

President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali

The cooperation between the police and the public, President Ali noted, is vital to effective law enforcement. He said last year, a high percentage of police actions were based on intelligence gathering which proved to be fruitful.

“I want to congratulate the work of the Guyana Police Force in communities. Some communities described as at-risk communities, very proactive and targeted work, and I want to assure the Guyana Police Force that the government will back them with livelihood options and will back them with the necessary tools to give these communities an alternative and help them to be incorporated into the mainstream economy,” President Ali said, as he opened the annual Police Officers’ Conference at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre on Thursday.

President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali (centre) along with Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn, M.P, Commissioner of Police (ag) Nigel Hoppie, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Mae Toussaint Jr. Thomas and other senior Officers of the Force

The Head of State said he is pleased that his calls last year for the force to build public trust has yielded results. However, he noted that there is still more work to be done.

“I anticipate this year we will see a more concerted and focused effort to develop a medium to long – term strategy, aimed at improving the image of the force. I look forward to interventions to boost public confidence and to work with the Guyana Police Force.”

“The police must improve its relations with the communities and citizens. The public is also obligated to support the work of the force. If there is mistrust in these relations, public order will be under threat because the police would be unable to elicit the degree of support it needs to effectively execute its lawful mandate,” the President stated.

President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali reviewing the Guard of Honour

Nevertheless, he pointed out that coordination between the country’s security entities has led to them achieving great results. President Ali encouraged more inclusion of Community Policing Groups to assist law enforcement.

He suggested that the force engage in strategy sessions with stakeholders to identify issues and solutions to improve policing.

“I position it here today, that we have enough brain power, human capacity in this room alone to do this. We do not need consultancy to do this for us, we are working in the system, we have experience in the system, we understand the system and more importantly, we know what is required to take the system forward… you have my full commitment in advancing this charge.”

Attitude towards policing

President Ali said government will make the investment needed to improve the assets of the force. However, he noted that while government will provide the best environment with modern police stations and vehicles, the attitude of officers must not hinder effective policing.  He said government also wants to see the professional development of ranks.

Members of the Guyana Police Force during their parade

“There could be no place for brute force and ignorance in policing. It is also unacceptable for the police to be rude and ill-mannered to the public. As such, greater attention is being paid to providing increased opportunities for training both locally and internationally.”

Dr. Ali further said crime must not be a bugbear to Guyana’s development. While he acknowledged that the force has limited human resource, the President said technology must fill the gap.

He pointed to the $2.5 billion investment by government to expand the safe city project beyond Georgetown. He added that there may be need for collaboration with private security firms in order to improve response time to crimes.

Continuous education campaign

The Public Relations Unit of the police force was also charged to be proactive and not reactive in its effort to educate the public. The aim, President Ali said is to continuously position the work of the force.

“We need an education programme that is not one-off. We need an educational campaign, a campaign that is sustained, one that is built on a communications strategy and one that incorporates all the avenues in which the public receives information… I would like to see tangible not only plans but actionable targets in relation to this.”

Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn M.P, Commissioner of Police (ag) Nigel Hoppie, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Mae Toussaint Jr. Thomas along with other senior members of government and Senior Officers of the force were present at the ceremony.

The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Promoting Improvement of Public Trust and Confidence, Maintaining Safety and Security Through Competence, Professionalism and Partnership.’

The Police Officers’ Conference will conclude on March 12.

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