The Guyana Police Force 180 Years of Service and Protection – by Francis Quamina Farrier

– by Francis Quamina Farrier

Early in July 2019, The Guyana Police Force held a series of activities celebrating its 180 anniversary. The celebrations commenced with an impressive Route March around the city of Georgetown on Saturday July 6, 2019. Other events included a Grand Drumhead Church Service at Police Headquarters, the Annual Sports Championship and an Awards Ceremony, among other events.

The Theme of this 180 Anniversary is, “Securing and Protecting our Nation Through Collaboration and Dedication”. However, at this time, the Guyana Police Force is facing some challenges to its century plus old image, because of the unlawful activities of some of its members.   

After being regarded as the BEST Police Force in the West Indies during colonial British Guiana, there have been reports of some police ranks committing a variety of crimes in more recent times. That has resulted in the loss of full confidence by the Guyanese people. Crimes such as accepting bribes and others, have been leveled at some police ranks over the years.

Most of the offending officers have been disciplined. In some cases, they were fired from the Force. Some years ago, a Police Complaints Authority was set up to receive complaints of Police ranks who commit unlawful acts on members of the Public, and make recommendations for disciplinary action.

In more recent decades, the job of those ranks who serve in the Crime Detection and Prevention Division, have become much more difficult and challenging, since they sometimes come face-to-face with hardened criminals in shoot-out encounters. As is known, there have been ranks who have lost their lives in such encounters. There are many brave and professional ranks who continue to do the right things and up-hold the grand Motto of, “SERVICE AND PROTECTION”. Law-Abiding citizens are appreciative of the service and protection provided by those ranks, and are grateful to them for continuing to do the right things as Law Enforcement Officers. Ranks who serve in the Immigration Division have also been receiving high praise from the International Travelling Public for the way in which they function at the Country’s International Airports and Border Crossings.

Many times some ranks go above and beyond the call of duty to improve the image of the Force. For example, there was a group of Police Ranks attached to the Alberttown Police Station, who used to visit with centenarian Olive Blackmore, who resided two blocks from the station. They did that on every birthday and every Christmas, taking gifts and spending quality time with the Elderly Olive Blackmore, from the time she had reached age 100 years, and until she passed away at age 105.

On a personal level, I have had many positive interactions with the Guyana Police Force, over the decades. Being involved as an advisor to one of their cultural productions many years ago. On another occasion, I worked with a video cameraman on the production of a special video mini documentary for the 150 anniversary. Unfortunately, there were a few negative experiences with some rogue members of the Guyana Police Force. On one occasion, while going about my lawful work as a journalist, I was detained at the Aurora Police station on the Essequibo Coast, when two ranks ‘accused’ me of video recording the Police Station while I was on the Public road. Yes, my camera did include the station, but that is NOT an offence, as Commissioner Laurie Lewis later explained at a Media Briefing. Both of the ranks who had unlawfully detained me at the Aurora Police Station, were subsequently fired from the Police Force for other rogue activities.

While there are some cops in the Guyana Police Force who find themselves on the wrong side of the Law, most citizens recognize the many good officers. As a journalist, I have done many stories both on television and in the Print Media, about cops who have done admirable police work over the years. Let me give an example with an article I wrote over two decades ago. It was about a young Police Cadet Officer who lead a team of Police and Solders into the harsh mosquito and snake infested jungle around the Mazaruni Prison. The mission was to recapture escaped prisoners. From “Mission Impossible”, that brave young Cadet Police Officer made it, “Mission Accomplished”, with the recapture of all the escapees. His name is David Ramnarine.

Here now are two other examples of distinguished police work which I previously reported in the Media some years ago. There was a cop who was going after a wanted man at Port Kaituma. He discovered the man hiding in a clump of bushes. He did not shoot him dead as is sometimes the case in such circumstances. Instead, he arrested the desperado and took him to the Police Station. The other example which I witnessed and reported on the VCT TV Evening News, occurred at Mahdia. There was a constable stationed there who spent every evening of his own time, coaching the youngsters of the area in multiple Ball Games. The result of that simple little news item by me on the VCT TV Evening News, resulted in Police Commissioner Laurie Lewis promoting the rank.

And even as the Force celebrates its 180 anniversary, I pose two questions; when will the name be changed from “The Guyana Police Force”, as was indicated a few months ago, to “The Guyana Police Service”? And will the next Commissioner of Police of the Guyana Police Force be a woman?

Present Police Commissioner Leslie James, DSS, DSM, with Francis Quamina Farrier

The Alberttown Police Station in Georgetown where some Angels in Uniform were stationed. (Photo by Francis Q. Farrier)

A member of the New York Police Department made a courtesy call on Police Commissioner Leslie James at Police Headquarters, Eve Leary, during the 180 Anniversary celebrations.

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