Members of the police force charged with serious offences would be fired immediately and would have to hire their own lawyers, Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud announced on Wednesday.
He told officers and ranks at the Force’s Awards Ceremony that those facing certain charges would no longer be sent on leave with half-pay.
“That has come to an end! You are charged and go before the court for certain types of offences- corruption and some other types related to use of excessive force and deliberate criminal activity- then simultaneously with going to court you are losing your job,” he said.
The Police Commissioner’s announcement came about two months after the new coalition government took steps to have two policemen fired because they were allegedly involved in setting alight the genitals of a teenager several years ago during a murder investigation.
He noted that in the past members of the police force, who have been charged and placed before the court, were interdicted from duty and paid half of their salaries. Pending the outcome of the matter, many of them are also employed elsewhere.
Persaud noted that in several instances, the cases are dismissed because witnesses, frustrated by the court system, no longer go to lead evidence against accused cops. Eventually, those members of the force resume duty and collect the outstanding halves of their salaries. “It’s not a half-salary and then cash in on the other half, five (or) six years after. It is that you need to look for another job, pay your lawyers and everybody else,” he said.
The Police Commissioner also announced that the United States would be providing assistance to tackle unprofessionalism in the Guyana Police Force (GPF) by overhauling the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). “We will make the OPR more effective so that they can now start targeting different types of unprofessional behaviour in the force based on analysis,” he said.
He listed areas of OPR improvements such as the training of complaints officers in the various divisions, addressing standard operating procedures and improving levels of autonomy.
The Top Cop hinted that salaries and allowances might soon be increased and members of the police force based in the interior would most likely be paid more.