‘We’re holding you accountable’ – Minister Persaud tells first batch of COPSQUAD2000 graduates

Eighteen members of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) received their certificates and a badge on Saturday when they graduated from the COPSQUAD2000 initiative that was launched last month by Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr. Vindhya Persaud.

Through COPSQUAD, at least one officer at every police station across the country will receive specialized training on how to address issues of domestic violence. At least half of the GPF will be trained by the end of this year.

Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr. Vindhya Persaud addressing the graduates on Saturday.

The graduation exercise took place at the Police Officers’ Training Centre in Kingston in partnership with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the GPF, and saw in attendance Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn and Commissioner of Police Nigel Hoppie.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is also playing an integral role in providing technical assistance and training, and Minister Persaud extended heartfelt gratitude to the representative present, Mr. Adler Bynoe.

Dr. Persaud expressed hope that the participants will do justice to their training and urged them to be agents of transformation. She encouraged them to develop a desire to actually want to be part of a solution to domestic violence and not to simply act as part of their routine duties.

Human Services Ministry is collaborating with the Home Affairs Ministry and the GPF for COPSQUAD2000.

Minister Persaud also asked the graduates to use their training to influence the rest of the police force and to call out, and even report, errant officers. “We’re holding you accountable because you have to be examples,” she stated noting that the graduates ought to apply the training in their personal lives if they’re to effectively prosecute others.

Minister Benn similarly urged the participants to become champions of change after their training and noted that he expects to see a significant change in the issues surrounding domestic violence by the end of this year.  

Police Commissioner Hoppie offered that the GPF will continue to support the government and the Human Services Ministry in its efforts against domestic violence and will welcome all other initiatives.

Human Services Minister Dr. Vindhya Persaud (center) with Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn (right) and Commissioner of Police Nigel Hoppie.

Meanwhile, several of the participants spoke well about the lecturers who conducted the training namely, Wemyss de Florimonte, Natalia Isava and Anuradha Deodasingh-Persaud.

A member of the Strategic Planning Unit of the GPF, Kennie Haney, expressed that the training was very impactful. “I was able to identify shortfalls in myself and the training provided tools that I can use to improve myself. I will be taking this back to my community in Sophia where gender based violence is prevalent. I really want to thank Minister for this initiative because for me, this programme was a god-sent,” she said.

Rayon Wilson, a Police Corporal stationed in Linden, said the training widened his knowledge on domestic violence and taught him how to deal with it in a more in-depth manner. “We couldn’t have had better lecturers. I can vow that I will take back knowledge to my area and as I said to the Minister, we wouldn’t make her hand fall; she will see improvement.”

Minister Persaud pinned a badge on each person graduating, identifying them as a member of COPSQUAD.

A third participant, Lance Corporal Deon Primus is stationed in Region Four B and offered that the training was well prepared and put together. “It was simple, in-depth and very interactive. I’d like to thank the Minister for putting this training out there and enlightening us where we would have been falling short. Minister, you can depend on us being the first batch of COPSQUAD,” he expressed.

With domestic violence cases said to be rising in Guyana, Minister Persaud wants 2,000 officers to be trained before the end of this year and has called for a conscientious effort to be made for each reported case to be treated with the level of seriousness and urgency that it requires. The new initiative seeks to ensure that once a domestic violence matter is brought to a police station, it will be handled in a manner that accords with international best practices. The training deals with interrogation, assessment of safety, how to counsel and respond to people who come to make complaints, and how to write case reports.