Ex-cop calls for ‘special training’ for ranks driving police vehicles
Chairman of the National Road Safety Council Earl Lambert, who is a former policeman, is advocating for special training for ranks who are responsible for driving police vehicles.
His comments come after the deadly police pursuit at Mahaica, East Coast Demerara that claimed the lives of a young couple – Christopher Bhagwandat and Shereeda Persaud – early in February.
The young couple had reportedly fled when the police asked them to stop, resulting in the horrific four-vehicle smash-up.
“It was surprising that in this day of technology where we have cell phone and two-way radios, that if a police stop somebody and they drive away, that they can call the stations ahead so that there can be an interception,” Lambert said while explaining that the accident could have been avoided.
As such, he called on the management of the Guyana Police Force to also look into officers who abuse their powers on the roadways and put citizens in danger.
“I think it is time the management of the Force start looking at the ranks who is driving police vehicles, they need special training, they also need to be courteous, many a times they are going nowhere but they want the traffic to be cleared so they can get to where they are going,” Lambert explained.
He also called for ranks to undergo training in how to arrest people.
Meanwhile, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall also spoke about the issue, noting that ranks are abusing their powers on the roadways.
He addressed the matter during this week’s ‘Issues in the News’ programme.
Nandlall said while the police must be allowed to discharge their functions and duties, they must not do so in a manner that does not infringes, violates or tramples upon the rights and freedoms of citizens.
“It is the Attorney General who has to answer in a court of law for police misconduct and misbehaviours.
“It is the state using taxpayers’ dollars that have to pay compensation sometimes running into millions, for police misbehaviour, police violation of the law, police violation of people’s constitutional rights,” Nandlall stressed.
The Attorney General revealed that the authorities are also investigating numerous complaints of police harassment.
“We have to continue to educate the public as well as the police in relation to police powers,” Nandlall revealed.
In addressing complaints about police detaining citizens’ vehicles for minor traffic offences, Nandlall made it clear that: “Except causing death by dangerous driving, the police should not detain persons’ vehicles.”
He reminded that there is a system in place that allows errant drivers or errant road users to be ticketed, and this should not be a lengthy process.
“When the police detain those vehicles and legal proceedings are filed, it is the Attorney General who has to go to a judge and explain why this vehicle is kept for so many days and I can’t offer an explanation in law that makes sense,” Nandlall said.
Nandlall urged law enforcement officers that a person should only be arrested or detained upon reasonable suspision of committing a serious offence.
Recently, he held a meeting with the Police Commissioner Nigel Hoppie where several measures and actions were submitted that the Police Force can take against errant police officers.
The Ministry of Education in collaboration the Guyana Police force in my view should be involved with training ,education and certification of motor vehicle drivers in Guyana.