Letter: Rohee slams ‘disrespectful’ Police Commissioner

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 April 2016, 21:45 by

Dear Editor,

The sitting Commissioner of Police, Mr. Seelall Persaud, in a recent interview published by “Demerara Waves” sought to do the following:

  1. Disrespect a Cabinet decision of the PPP/C administration.
  2. Besmirch the character of the then Minister of Home Affairs; Clement J. Rohee.
  3. Denigrate the efficacy of the Strategic Management Department at the Guyana Police Force.

For the benefit of readers and to set the record straight let it be known that the decision to establish a Strategic Management Department (SMD) staffed by civilians arose as a result of a recommendation by the UK-based Capita Symmonds Consultancy firm in a draft Strategic Plan for the GPF. The draft was adopted by the Guyana Police Force’s senior management/administration and other ranks under the watchful eye of the then Commissioner of Police Henry Greene.

Prior to its adoption by the Force the Strategic Plan was subjected to a number of internal workshops organized by the Force to examine the draft plan in great detail with a view to making recommendations for adjustment where necessary.

Following the adoption of the draft plan by the Force, the document was deliberated upon at Cabinet Sub-Committee on Crime and Security, the Central Intelligence Committee and the Defense Board.

Subsequently the draft was taken to Cabinet and approved with one caveat, that the proposed Strategic Management Department (SMD) be staffed with suitably qualified civilians.

The Cabinet decision to staff the SMD with suitably qualified civilians had nothing to do with whether or not there were suitably qualified ranks in the Guyana Police Force, in fact, it was more to do with Cabinet’s view that the SMD was not to be a police,  but rather a civilian outfit to have oversight to monitor, evaluate and  implement the Strategic Plan of the GPF: Civilian oversight of the GPF  is, as it has always been, the responsibility of the Ministry of Home Affairs now Ministry of Public Security.

It was never contemplated by Cabinet that the Police would have oversight nor to evaluate implementation of its own strategic plan by itself. Were this to be the case it would mean that junior ranks staffing the SMD would be subordinate to superior officers and would have neither the flexibility nor the intellectual perspicacity  and autonomy to oversee nor evaluate objectively the implementation of the GPF’s strategic plan from a professional standpoint.

Thus, the GPF accepted the need for an internal institutional arrangement to be made which saw GPF’s senior management transforming itself into an Executive Leadership Team (ELT) whose responsibility would be to liaise with the SMD to ensure implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the strategic plan.

It was for this reason that the same logic was extended vis-a-vis the Strategic Plans for the Guyana Prison Service and the Guyana Fire Service, both of which were to have their dedicated Strategic Management Departments exercise oversight, implement, monitor and evaluate their respective plans in collaboration with senior management of the Prison and Fire Services.

But even more significant was the establishment of a SMD at the Ministry of Home Affairs staffed by suitably qualified persons who would not be members of staff holding line positions at the Ministry of Home Affairs but who would be contracted under a special project to oversee, monitor and evaluate the implementation of the Strategic Plan of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

In this respect, the Ministry of Home Affairs established its own Change Team to liaise with the SMD to facilitate the seamless implementation of the strategic plan of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Later, as the work progressed, the Ministry found it necessary to take two additional steps; first to have monthly report-back and assessment meetings with the Change Team from each department to consider progress reports  as regards implementation of the respective plans for each department and later, quarterly meetings with the Heads of each SMD and the Heads of the Change Team from Guyana Police Force, Guyana Prison Service, Guyana Fire Service and the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Home Affairs to facilitate exchange of experiences.

The strategic plan in the case of the police had little or nothing to do exclusively with crime fighting, on the contrary, it had to do with a more holistic approach viz; institutional and organizational transformation of the Guyana Police Force.

It is important to emphasize that with the passing of Henry Greene and the retirement of Leroy Brummel certain members of the crop of senior ranks that rose to the top of the GPF became openly resistant and intolerant to the work of the civilian-led SMD, its oversight role and its co-joint responsibility to ensure implementation of the Strategic Plan.

Principal among those who considered the SMD and the Ministry of Home Affairs as intrusive were Seelall Persaud, Balram Persaud (deceased) and David Ramnarine.

The records of meetings held between the Ministry of Home Affairs, SMD (GPF) and Police Change Team stored at the Ministry of Home Affairs now Ministry of Public Security, would attest to the behavior of certain members of the Police Change Team at those meetings.

To now claim that the SMD has “outlived its usefulness” and that it is being “closed down” is disingenuous and duplicitous to say the least.

The fact of the matter is, there are elements at the senior management level of the Force who never supported police reform nor the transformation of the GPF vis-a-vis implementation of the strategic plan drafted by the UK-based consultancy group,  Capita Symmonds and more especially, where a civilian-led Strategic Management Department was to oversee implementation of the said plan in collaboration with the Police Change team.  A counterpart Police body called the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) which, incidentally, was never established but only became a reality after pressure was exerted by the Cabinet and the Defense Board. The ELT was expected to play the role of the GPF’s liaison with the civilian-led SMD and was to be inserted under the Commissioner of Police since he was the Chairman of that Team.

Earlier, an attempt was made to subvert the Cabinet decision by establishing a parallel SMD staffed with junior ranks of the GPF but when Seelall Persaud was confronted by way of an official letter from the administration he backed away and feigned ignorance of such a move stating that; “the current administration of the GPF will never act contrary to any Cabinet decision”.

When the Commissioner speaks about the establishment of “Division-based Information Management Units” the fact of the matter is that these Units should have been established ever since, but was stoutly resisted by senior management on the ground that “the Force felt violated by the hiring of “Gestapos” even though computer hardware and software  were procured and installed for use by OC’s and Commanders.

Over seventy (70) data entry clerks were hired to assist with inputting data into the Integrated Crime Information System (ICIS) on a daily basis  at almost every police station across the country.   These Units were set up initially to provide information to Police and Force Headquarters on a real time basis rather than on a weekly or monthly basis.

The same data was made available to the Ministry of Home Affairs to be used as historical data for the purpose of analysis, policy guidance and formulation.

Therefore, when all is said and done it is quite obvious that the sitting Commissioner of Police is at variance with a Cabinet decision of the previous government which he assured; “the Force will never act contrary to any Cabinet decision” but which he now chooses to criticize politically.

No Commissioner of Police has the authority to unilaterally close down a department set up by a government based on a Cabinet decision, nor should he do so without going through the process which the Force went through before endorsing the Strategic Plan and accepting the establishment of the SMD.

This can only happen with the blessings of Cabinet and the National Security Committee not to mention that of Minister of Public Security.

Assuming the green light has been given to proceed in that direction, it follows that the government is laying the basis for acceptance of a New Strategic Plan for the GPF which is currently being formulated by another UK-based Olive Group Consultancy currently in Guyana in response to the Government of Guyana’s call on the UK government to revisit the Security Sector Reform Action Plan.

If this is the case then the government must do three things:

First inform the public that it is shutting down, not the SMD at the GPF but the current strategic and implementation plans and replacing them with a New Strategic and implementation plan formulated by the UK-based Olive Group Consultancy.

The Commissioner of Police must stop shielding the Minister of Public Security on this matter he has no authority to close down the SMD of the GPF and finally, the Minister of Public Security must stop hiding behind the Commissioner of Police and tell the Nation what are the government’s intentions with respect to Police reform and implementation of the current strategic and implementation plans.

Clement Rohee

General Secretary

People’s Progressive Party

April 13, 2016