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Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud today said that he has received correspondence from the Police Service Commission that promotions have been put on hold until February 2016, a move he is disappointed at.

“Yesterday I received communication saying that the promotion will be on or before February 23rd … I don’t know the reason for the delay but traditionally it’s a year end thing,” Persaud told reporters at the Guyana Police Force’s end-of-year press conference.

He said he believed the delay, from the normal end-of-year announcement, was a blow to the morale of police servicemen throughout the country and the decision has played into the hands of former minister of home affairs Clement Rohee, who had said that promotions should be placed on hold pending an integrity investigation of eligible officers. “The former minister is also saying that the promotions should delay, that only impacts negatively against the police force and the service commission played right into his hands,” he said.

Rohee, who is also general secretary of the People’s Progressive Party launched a stinging attack on Monday on the government over its handling of the police force and related matters.

“In light of the impending announcement of the 2016 promotion list for members of the Guyana Police Force, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) wishes to remind that former president Donald Ramotar in addressing the opening session of the Annual Officers’ Conference of the Guyana Police Force in April 2015 had announced that persons tipped for promotion will require integrity testing. Mr Ramotar had emphasized that the move was aimed at weeding out corrupt persons from the law enforcement agency. In this connection, Ramotar had stated, ‘In future, for appointment to some senior positions there must be some form of integrity testing,’” Rohee had stated.

“Since then there has been no indication whether the Granger administration has taken up the mantle and proceeded in that direction.”

The Commissioner of Police referred to the departure comments of former commissioner Leroy Brumell who earlier this year had said that society no longer respects the police and as such police servicemen no longer wore their uniforms with pride. He pointed out that the police’s lowest public ratings came at a time when Rohee was home minister and it speaks much to his men’s morale during Rohee’s tenure.

According to Persaud, Brumell’s statements were concretized when a Vanderbilt University public study done throughout Latin America showed Guyanese saying that the organization with the least public confidence was the GPF. “It shows that in the whole of Latin America and the Caribbean the lowest rates, right down at the bottom of the list is the Guyana Police Force. It speaks to morale of the force,” the commissioner lamented.

However, he said that as reformation plans kicked in since then there have been positive changes and he was confident that 2016 would be a better year for the force. Said Persaud, “Today I can say that we are working with so many partners in society that that (statistic) has changed. It might still be the organization with the lowest public trust but its ratings would have improved.

“We were struggling to get recruits then but now we have a waiting list of 1,200 applicants so we certainly have improved and it was under that same minister’s stewardship that we were there [at the bottom] and the same thing he is doing now,” he added.

Persaud said there should have been no hindrance to police promotions as recommendations were given to the commission early and interviews were held since September/October.

Nonetheless, he pointed out that the service commission is an autonomous body with which there should be no interference.

Meanwhile, the GPF stated that for this year 33 police officers have been interdicted by the Office of Professional Responsibility.

While no names where given, this newspaper understands that the list includes constables Marlon Cruickshank and Elvis Jones, then attached to the Cove and John Police Station who allegedly shot a man to death at Mahaica in July of this year and are currently on manslaughter charges. Also among the interdicted are the four Berbice-based policemen implicated in the payment of $6 million in exchange for the release of a large quantity of cocaine in September of this year, and an officer at Mahaica who had allegedly shot at a goat thief among others.