The Strategic Management Department (SMD) of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) is being closed down because it has outlived its usefulness, according to Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud.
“The Guyana Police Force has outgrown the Strategic Management Department,” he told Demerara Waves Online News. Persaud said the 12-member civilian staff is being gradually phased out as their contracts expire.
Meanwhile, well-placed sources have told Demerara Waves that a number of staff members have asked President David Granger to intervene in the issue following efforts to seek a meeting with Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan.
Persaud explained that the Department was staffed with civilians because at the inception five , the police force did not have many university-trained graduates to implement several infrastructure-related aspects of the 2013-2017 Strategic Management Plan that had been crafted by a United Kingdom-headquartered consultancy firm, Capita Symonds.
The Commissioner said unlike the SMD, the police force has been able to put systems in place to conduct research, evaluation and deliver reports in a timely manner that now inform crime-fighting approaches. “The force has outgrown that because it is not possible for them to do any kind of monitoring and evaluation in a shorter time than a month,” he said.
Persaud explained that the GPF has since developed a Division-based Information Management Unit that analyses all information from the Integrated Crime Information System and provide those analyses for commanders on weekly basis. “These analyses help the commanders to target policing activities and to help them with deployment and so on a weekly basis they are able to adjust if needs be and that really takes away that monitoring and evaluation function of the SMD because no one wants to wait for a month or three months when you are getting it weekly,” he said. The Police Commissioner further informed that the Commanders provide reports fortnightly to him.
In the area of research, Persaud said persons with policing background are required to understand police work. Told that the SMD is headed by a former Assistant Superintendent of Police, the Police Commissioner suggested strongly that Patrick Mentore’s experience and approach were inappropriate. “He has served in the force for some time and I don’t think he has been involved in much frontline kind of duty and that would have been quite a while back and so the current contemporary issues are different,” he said.
Asked what the disbandment of the SMD would mean for civilian oversight of the GPF, Commissioner Persaud questioned then Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee’s understanding of the SMD’s role. “The SMD was a department of the force and the former minister, himself, had limitations in conceptualizing what is this thing because several times he made that same statement…but how can a unit in an organisation have oversight of that organisation- lack of basic conceptual skills?,” he said.
The Police Commissioner said the Head of the SMD, who has had conflicts with officers, probably believed that the Department was an oversight body. Persaud reiterated that the only reason that the SMD was staffed with civilians was because then Police Commissioner Henry Greene had told Rohee that the force did not have qualified persons to do so.
The impending closure of the SMD comes at a time when the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Prison Service are preparing to establish SMDs.
Demerara Waves was unable to reach head of the SMD for a comment but information from the office is that the department was “forced” to write a letter requesting a meeting with the Public Security Minister as a result of the information received.
“But why? I don’t get the logic as to why they would want to end this program when you have the prison service, fire and everyone else expanding this very arm. Is it to lessen civilian intervention, reduce oversight and support services? Either way you look at it, it could only be assumed that he (Commissioner) wants tighter control of the force.”