By Leroy Smith
In an effort to better police the country, the Guyana Police Force has rolled out its regional commanders’ initiative which will see each administrative region having an individual police commander. This move which has been in the pipeline since 2015 is now being rolled out as the country gears for an election season that will see National and Regional Elections being held on March 2, 2020.
There are seven officers who have worked in various departments and branches of the force before but have never commanded police divisions.
Those now identified as Divisional Commanders are Senior Superintendent and former Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum who will Commander Division No.1, Senior Superintendent and former head of the Police Narcotics Branch Kurleigh Simon who will command Division ‘B’ within Region No.4, Assistant Commissioner of Police and former head of the Strategic Planning Unit Royston Andries-Junor will command Division ‘C’ within Region No.4, Woman Superintendent and former commandant of the Felix Austin Police College in Berbice Yonette Stephens will now command Division No. 5, Superintendent and Former O/C Lethem Keithon King will now command Division No.9 while Superintendent and Former ‘A’ Division Court Superintendent Hugh Winter will command Division No. 10. Senior Superintendent and Traffic Chief Linden Ialse will be heading to Division No.7 where he will take over from recently promoted Assistant Commissioner Kevin Adonis who is slated to head into retirement in a few days.
Commanders Chapman, Brutus, Ashram, Robinson, Lord and Adonis are still serving as commanders despite some level of movements. There have also been some movements among those who acted as Deputy Commanders in the previously established divisional makeup.
With the new make-up of the Regional Commanders initiative comes its own challenges and the persons expected to be most hard hit are the newly appointed divisional heads.
First will be the issue of boundaries which have not yet been clearly defined, there are the issues of infrastructure and accommodation for commanders as it relates to their headquarters and the establishment of their registries etc, manpower, communication and most importantly, vehicular resources.
At the moment the force is battling with the issue of several downed patrol vehicles and a reduction in the number of motorcycles it once had within its fleet to aid in patrols.
As it relates to the vehicles, many of the Chinese vehicles which were given to the force two years back are parked up at workshops while others are operating on their last. The force does have a challenge of bringing those vehicles back onto the streets due to the lack of spare parts which has its genesis in the closure of the company which manufactured the vehicles. It simply means that parts for those vehicles are no longer available so once those vehicle are down, they are done.
The force has also been saddled with and shooting itself in the foot with respect to its own obligation to numerous auto body shops across the country who would do repairs to police vehicles but have to wait a very long time before they are paid for those jobs. That has caused some bodywork shops to reduce the volume of work they do for the police while others have ceased altogether.
That has been crippling the police force’s ability to effectively patrol sections of the country as they just literally do not have the resource to conduct those operations.
It is unclear how central government is treating with these particular challenges especially given the upcoming political season.