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Internal police probe launched into alleged removal of video evidence from murder scene; Top Cop promises drastic reduction of police corruption

Police Commissioner, Leslie James on Thursday said an internal probe has been launched into the alleged involvement of a police officer in the  removal of video evidence from a murder scene at Subryanville, Georgetown, even as he said his administration would have a zero tolerance of corruption.

Following the airing of certain allegations, James said Deputy Police Commissioner (Law Enforcement), Lyndon Alves was given instructions. One person, he said, has since submitted a statement and Assistant Superintendent of Police would be questioned when he returns from annual vacation leave. “Questions will be put to him and we expect him to respond,” he said.

James said no report on the allegation had reached on his desk.

Former Crime Chief, Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Williams said as far he was aware no information about video surveillance had been provided by the aggrieved aunt and daughter  who had expressed concern about the initial charge of manslaughter.

Hotelier, 45-year old Erwin Bacchus, who shot and killed Jason De Florimonte on August 4, 2018, had been initially granted GY$1.5 million bail on a manslaughter charge. However, that charge was dropped and replaced with murder.

At the same press conference at which the Police Commissioner disclosed that police were probing claims that their own might have removed vital video surveillance footage from Tourist Villa Hotel, James said he and his administrators were constantly reinforcing that corruption would not be tolerated.

“By way of us going out into the divisions, we are making it very clear that corruption must be a something of the past,” he said, adding that Commanders and other officers must stress they must resist all temptations to engage in corrupt transactions. “Corruption is between two persons or more- offer and acceptance- so is not that corruption will be wished away. We are fully aware of it but what I can say to you it will be minimised because e are addressing it in a deliberate manner,” he said. “It will be minimised and perhaps eradicated once we are sitting down here,” he said.

The Police Commissioner said since August 30, 2018 there has been no reported bribery against members of the Guyana Police Force.

Former Head of the Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) Unit, Deputy Superintendent Motie Dookie is back on the job and allegations against him were being addressed by the Police Service Commission (PSC).  James refused to say where Dookie is currently based.

The High Court had ruled that the acting Minister of Public Security, Winston Felix’s decision to request that he be sent on administrative leave was unconstitutional. Dookie had been arrested late last year in a minibus in Berbice with a quantity of whiskey believed to have been smuggled. At that time, he had reportedly not received permission to be away from his decision.

In the area of promotions, the Police Commissioner said there would be promotions by year-end, but they depended on the allegations being cleared up by the Police Service Commission.

“Part of having ranks fully motivated, you must have promotions and you can’t have promotions and you have a disciplinary matter going on so we are clearing those matters off. Once the rank or ranks are cleared of them, they can be promoted,” said James.

Police Commissioner James said several “reformation plans”, in collaboration with the United Kingdom-funded Security Sector Reform Programme (SSRP), were on train. Those include boosting vehicular and  foot patrols to increase response time, and plans to purchase boats and planes for the Guyana Police Force.

“After a report is made of the occurrence of a crime, we would like a response to that report to be reduced from 8 or 10 minutes to perhaps five, six minutes. It is not that we are flying but we are trying to see if we can have a little  more professionalism, a little more speed in the handling of such reports, a little more alertness by the ranks so that with effort we would be in a better position to catch offenders,” he said.

“If this country is a serious investment destination, it means we have to engage in best practices which includes aviation capability”, he said.

Other announcements made at the press briefing include the re-establishment of training and traffic advisory boards and improvement in public relations.