More body cams being acquired for Police ranks
To improve accountability, transparency and public trust, Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn is encouraging the use body cameras by members of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) in the execution of their daily operations.
At present, the force has about 140 pieces of the equipment, which are spread across the 12 policing divisions.
And Benn said more will be acquired with funds from the 2024 budget.
This, year a sum of $90.6 billion has been earmarked for the security sector. And out of the sum, significant monies are expected to be spent on the use of technology and new infrastructure for the Joint Services.
Apart from the body cameras, Benn said cameras will also be set up at police stations across the country and additional breathalyser testing kits have been purchased and are awaiting certification.
“We have spoken to the Police. I think they have 140 body cameras and more to come in the budget and the breathalyser testing equipment are here. They are awaiting certification at the Bureau of Standards,” Benn said on Wednesday at his ministry’s 2023 year in review press conference.
Benn said emphasis is also being placed on ensuring law enforcement officials execute their duties with professionalism at all times.
At the same time, he said efforts are underway to ensure there is improvement in Police behaviour, particularly during their engagement with members of the public.
“The professionalism we desire in our services relates not only to training, their management and how they conduct themselves but also as to how they are perceived by the public in a proper fashion.
“Which is why we said each person can take their cell phone and take out the behaviour of a policeman or a prison officer or whoever. Whether they are terrorizing people, being mean to people, whether they are professional in their behaviour which is what we want,” Benn explained.
It is believed that the utilisation of the technological equipment, particularly the body cameras, will aid in achieving this and also erase corrupt practices.
Among its purpose, the body cameras can be used to document law enforcement officials’ interactions with victims and witnesses during police- public encounters, arrests and critical incidents.
The equipment provides visual and audio evidence that can independently verify events.
The use of body cameras by the Guyana Police Force is guided by Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) 1 of May 2015.
This sets out guidelines and procedures for the use, management, access, retention and handling of evidence, storage and retrieval of recorded media captured by the equipment during the execution of official duties.
Additionally, Benn said to aid crime fighting efforts, the Safe City CCTV surveillance system initiative is being expanded countrywide.
“The Safe City is moving to a Safe country situation where you will have cameras at particular areas in the regions and Police stations,” Benn said.
In fact, he said apart from the city which the programme was initially launched to monitor, Command Centers are being established in Regions 2, 5 and 6.