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GUYANA POLICE OVERHAUL

Saying the service badly needs overhauling, government announced a New Year’s Eve overhaul of the police service saying it will join Jamaica, Trinidad and other Caribbean trade bloc nations in hiring foreign police officers, local and civilian specialists to support a major restructuring effort beginning in earnest this year.

Embattled National Security Minister Clement Rohee said authorities want foreign officers to work as consultants to help in succession planning, on integrity, probity issues, public relations and communications in the force which is to be re-branded as the Guyana Police Service rather than force.

He said those officers will not be in line for regular promotions in the normal chain of command but will be used more as a support team in an apparent effort to ease resentment from senior officers.

He also said cabinet had approved the hiring of dozens of civilian workers to conduct tasks such as data entry into force’s computer systems, freeing up trained officers for routine police duties.

The announcement comes as the combined parliamentary opposition has maintained calls for Rohee’s dismissal following a series of police fatal shooting in recent months, widespread corruption among patrol and other officers, murder charges against nearly a dozen serving officers and a general decline in the performance of the force.

Parliament has even approved a no confidence motion in Rohee and the house speaker has banned him for addressing the house on matters under his portfolio, hence the announcements at a private forum on New Year’s eve.

Rohee said 30 percent of the force’s budget will be used for training in 2013 compared to five percent last year and the force will soon have its own air wing with trained pilots and engineers to ease its dependence on the military and civilian operators in times of emergencies.

He said “a high degree of professional, technical and efficient inputs to guarantee implementation of the plan” will be needed, noting that the five-year restructuring plan that will have training as its linchpin will cost taxpayers about $5M.

His announcement also came the same week when fellow officers slapped murder and manslaughter charges against three of their colleagues in relation to two senseless murders in the capital late last year. As well, the force’s image has taken a severe battering following the mid July fatal shootings of three opposition supporters during political protests.

A Caribbean-led commission of inquiry is to resume sittings in the city this month but its report is widely expected to do a hatchet job both on Minister Rohee and the functioning of the police system.

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