GEORGETOWN, Guyana--Blatant corruption and other illegal activities in the Guyana Police Force (GPF) have gotten out of control, according to outgoing Assistant Commissioner, Paul Slowe who said that the force has to be stripped of rouge elements from top to bottom before its image can be repaired.
This, in turn, will provide the solution to a number of the problems that the force now faces.
The blunt-speaking 55-year-old police officer who has proceeded on two months pre-retirement leave said that at times he was ashamed of the behaviour of some of his colleagues and he hopes that in the near future the force can be returned to the days when it was respected.
In an interview with Stabroek News, Slowe, who has the distinction of being one of the few officers to command respect from a wide cross-section of the populace, spoke of his 37 years in the force and did not shy away from what some may describe as controversial issues including when he refused to carry out an order by then Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj which would have forced him to act outside of the rules that govern the force.
... many of the complaints have merit and sometimes I am ashamed, because when I joined the force you had incidents yes but not this blatant corruption by some of the ranks, brutalizing people and behaving as if they are a law unto themselves, the thing I believe has gone out of control, Slowe told this newspaper.
He said as a senior officer he had been trying to deal very diligently with those elements and I hope that my brother officers that are remaining will take up the fight to rid the force of those elements, because we don`t need them. They have done a lot of damage to the force and therefore those who remain need to ensure that is one of the foremost projects on their agenda, to tackle the bad elements within the force to make the force the proud organisation it once was, the officer said.
Slowe called upon the senior officers to lead by example as it is not enough to tell their juniors to do as I say and not as I do because at the end of the day you might tell them what you want to tell them (and) they see that you are doing something else and therefore they are going to be inclined to do just what you do.
He said the officers need to ensure that they do the right things and mix with the right people and he stressed the point that as an officer of the law one cannot be seen drinking and socializing at all the nightspots around town.
The officer, who has never been one to mince words, said from an early stage he recognized that if he wanted to be a senior officer who was respected certain places you cannot be frequenting, certain people you cannot hang out with so that is why I have lived the life in the force I have lived.
He continued that throughout his career he sought to carefully select the people with whom he associated pointing out that if as an officer one visited a popular sporting spot it might appear as if the officer is associating with persons of questionable character merely because the persons are on the same premises as the officer and public perception of that officer automatically changes.
He is of the opinion that back in the day the colonial masters recognized the very issue and that may have been one of the reasons they built messes such as the officer`s mess, the inspector`s and sergeant`s mess and the other ranks bar, the intention was that when you want to mix and take a drink you go to those messes and you are assured to be associating with the right people.
Image for me is everything. If you are able to project the right image as individuals the organisation too will have the right image and in that right image lies the solutions to a lot of the problems that we are facing.
He underscored the point that if officers have the right image and are respected by society then they will be able to go to citizens and garner information about criminal activities and in some instances citizens are even going to take information to officers because they are respected.