In Guyana, corruption is a good word to start a confabulation or even better to start an argument. Kaieteur News, on Thursday December 9, 2021, shouted: “Don’t let corruption limit your access to climate change finance – says CBD president to regional governments. On the same day, Stabroek News said: “A strong anti-corruption stance will show that the government is committed to transparent institutions – the US Ambassador. These are bold statements made at receptions on the occasion of the “International Anti-Corruption Day”. Both titles made the headlines of the respective newspapers. Recently, 3 civilians were charged with offering a police officer a bribe of $ 700,000. The Permanent Secretary of the Department of Native American Affairs appeared in court on a corruption charge of $ 200,000. 2 former GDF ranks and a businessman have been charged with bribery of more than $ 700 million in fuel. Let me be clear, I am not suggesting for a single moment that those involved in the alleged corruption are guilty of the charges. I believe in the maxim “innocent until proven guilty”. I hope the police, especially the infamous SOCU, will meet the rigorous standard of criminal prosecution of “proof beyond a reasonable doubt”. It is on this basis that someone is accused or not. The police have failed to do so in many cases, even more so in politically motivated cases. In addition, the media and elsewhere are inundated with various corruption issues and concerns in Guyana.
Please allow me to join the conversation on corruption again. What is corruption and what can be done to stem the flow of corruption? This missive has a law enforcement bias, but it can be likened to other organizations and departments in Guyana. The key elements of corrupt behavior are that the conduct is (1) prohibited by law or rule, (2) involves abuse of position, and (3) involves personal reward or gain for the officer. Corruption is a corrosive element that spreads like rust if not contained or removed. The causes of corruption are complex. Many factors can contribute to corruption, including greed, personal motivations such as ego, gender or the exercise of power; tolerance of behavior by the community; inadequate peer and / or organizational socialization, coaching and behavior monitoring; lack of clear accountability for employee behavior; and no real threat of discipline or sanctions.
Corruption is of concern as police on the ground and elsewhere are exposed to many opportunities to personally benefit from their actions against criminals. They may be offered bribes or found huge amounts of money or drugs. They may feel overworked, underpaid (rightly so) and therefore entitled to take what they see as fair compensation for the risk they face at work. According to Wayne W Bennett and Karen M Hess in their book, Management and Supervision in Law Enforcement, “Accepting tips violates most departmental policies and the law enforcement code of ethics. Even the smallest gifts create a sense of obligation. Even if nothing is expected in return, the gratuity can create the appearance of impropriety. While most officers can discern between friendly gestures and bribes, some cannot. “Yet when a member of the police force turns out to be corrupt, hundreds of honest, hard-working cops suffer. The problem of police corruption affects agencies and departments of all sizes, in all parts of the country. “
Sherman’s “Slippery Slope of Corruption” postulates that police corruption begins with lowering ethical expectations and values to obtain a gratuity of minor value, for example, a free Chinese lunch or a few free beers or beer. money to purchase gasoline or tickets to attend an event at the Providence National Stadium. While these actions in themselves are most likely harmless and inconsequential as a corrupt force, over time they can snowball, causing an agent to accept tips of a greater magnitude. Moreover, such practices often lead those offering the “free” to expect preferential treatment from the beneficiary agents. Most of the time, when “free” ones aren’t readily available, agents will make requests and even threat requests. Strandberg (2000) notes: “Corruption takes many forms, and something seemingly trivial can put an officer on a slippery slope, leading to major crimes. Research repeatedly confirms that most scandals start with an employee committing relatively minor unethical acts and rise to the level authorized by management. A good place to start in reducing or eliminating corruption is to eliminate the code of silence.
The code of silence encourages the ranks not to speak out when they see another officer doing something wrong. However, in many cases it can be difficult to choose good over evil, as it takes courage, as people who make ethical choices often submit to social and professional ridicule. Ethical decisions build personal character, but not without pain. Four-time Olympic gold medalist American gymnast Simone Biles, who is considered one of the greatest gymnasts of all, has come under heavy criticism for testifying against the disgraced doctor of the American gymnastics team, the Dr Larry Nassar, in relation to the sexual assaults committed on her and on more than one hundred gymnasts. She suffered from angst before and after testifying in the US Senate hearing. The infamous doctor is currently serving a life sentence. Back in Guyana, a young policewoman recently found a computer bag containing a laptop and a total of Guyanese dollars and USD 1 million. She found the owner and returned the items to him. She declined his reward offer. The police administration gave him a substantial sum of money for his honesty and integrity. However, opponents, including some members of the GPF, have used social media to criticize her for her honesty and integrity.
Fulton (2000) points out that “police commanders must show the honesty and integrity they seek in their subordinates”. In addition, “the ethical mentoring and role model must be consistent, frequent and visible”. In a previous article, I mentioned McCarthy’s (2000) Seven Steps that can help prevent or reduce corruption. It is relevant for me to underline them again. They are: (1) Recruit with great care. (2) Establish appropriate policies and put them in writing. (3) Adopt a good employee evaluation process. (4) Make sure your sergeants share management philosophies. (5) Develop regular anti-corruption inspections and audits, and (7), implement ethics and integrity training in each training activity.
Deputy Police Commissioner (retired)