The Guyana Police Force (GPF) on Sunday paid homage to 65 fallen heroes at a wreath laying ceremony for those Policemen and women who died in the line of duty.
The wreath laying ceremony was held at the monument for Fallen Heroes in the Police Officers’ Mess Compound, Eve Leary, Georgetown, as part of the GPF’s celebration of its 183rd anniversary.
The event saw the Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn; acting Commissioner of Police, Clifton Hicken along with Assistant Commissioners; Commanders and other high-ranking officials of the Force with widows, children, relatives and friends of the fallen heroes laying wreaths at the base of the monument.
During his opening remarks, Assistant Commissioner (administration) Calvin Brutus said that “this event here today, marks the 21st occasion that we are labouring in memory of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice of dying in the line of duty to ensure that public security is maintained”.
“It is a significant occasion because had it not been for their sacrifices we will not be here standing, celebrating this occasion and remembering their sacrifice and contribution to the security landscape in Guyana”, Brutus added.
As a mark of respect, a 21-gun salute was executed while the Police Military Band sounded the Last Post, a moment of silence was observed, followed by another 21-gun salute and the Reveille.
Wreaths were also laid by Minister Benn, Hicken, Members of the Police Executive Leadership Team (ELT) and all divisional commanders and branch heads.
During brief remarks, Minister Benn lauded the Guyana Police Force for a well-oganised ceremony. He also lauded the efforts being made by the Fallen Heroes Foundation to support the families of those policemen and women who would have died in the line of duty, especially with respect to the ambitions of the children of the fallen heroes.
“Why would Policemen stand up, face the danger, not run away…but perhaps lay down and make the supreme sacrifice. They were defending and building and creating the environment for a better and greater Guyana for ourselves and for all Guyanese.”
Bearing in mind the ultimate sacrifice of the fallen heroes, Minister Benn urged the Force to re-dedicate itself to duty, not forgetting the dangers posed from time to time.
The Minister also solemnly spoke of the critical period when Policemen were killed in the line of duty, the days he termed “dark days”, and expressed sympathy to the family members of those killed.
In closing, Minister Benn thanked the Acting Commissioner of Police for the splendid display.
“I want to identify that, in my view with the continuing service, the fallen heroes will be and must continue to be proud of us in the Guyana Police Force and proud and satisfied that their sacrifice would not go in vain”, the Home Affairs posited.
Meanwhile, in his remarks, Hicken asked the audience to observe a minute of silence to remember the Police Officers “who made the ultimate sacrifice for this nation — the fallen heroes who never went home to their families and friends”.
Emphasisng that safety and security are precious gifts that benefit all of us, the Top Cop noted that too often we give little thought to the price paid for them.
In 2002, the Guyana Police Force, under the tenure of then Commissioner of Police Laurie Lewis, DSS, DSM, established the Monument of Fallen Heroes that is dedicated to the memory of members of the Force killed in the line of duty.
The Top Cop noted that “the monument serves as a place of reflection, honour, tribute, and communal gathering for the family, friends, fellow colleagues, and the nation of the fallen”.
This, he lamented, is in light of the fact that, as Police Officers, “we are frequently exposed to life-threatening situations, not only to ourselves but also to the grieving relatives of the deceased.” He said, “Moreover, we frequently lose fellow officers to on-duty deaths and lasting, career-ending injuries, which can negatively impact our health and wellbeing.”
He added that being a Police rank takes commitment as it requires one to maintain mental and moral strength to resist opposition, and fairness of mind to protect the nation in the line of fire and must stand by our fellow officers in the face of danger or extreme difficulty.
The Top Cop noted that the “Guyana Police Force recognises the importance of honouring our fallen heroes through its Fallen Heroes Foundation Inc., which was established in 2015 in collaboration with the Cops and Faith Community Network”.
The Foundation provides benefits to families whose members have died in the line of duty. Such benefits include providing welfare support, financial assistance, and educational assistance to children who are under the age of 18.
Hicken noted that “through our gratitude and respect for our fallen members, the Guyana Police Force will continue to provide benevolent benefits to the immediate family of deceased ranks; take responsibility for the wake for deceased ranks, and take responsibility for the funeral for deceased ranks”.
“As we pay tribute to the fallen heroes, let us also rededicate ourselves to upholding the passion and purpose they so bravely fought for and died for, so that others might live. Let us keep faith with their service and sacrifice by renewing our own commitment to the Guyana Police Force motto, “Service and Protection.”
“So once again, my sincere condolences to the husbands, wives, parents, children, siblings, friends, and fellow officers, all of those here today who have been touched by the lives we honour. You have been called upon to bear a special burden. And, though there is no speech that can ease your pain, no tribute or salute, we honour their courage and ask you to fill your hearts with our nation’s gratitude,” Hicken continued.
Chairman of the Guyana Police Force Fallen Heroes Foundation, Bishop Dr. Raphael Massiah, CCH, in his remarks commended the Guyana Police Force for the solemnity for which this occasion has been organized.
During the ceremony, words of comfort were offered to the relatives and friends of the ranks killed in the line of duty by the Police Force Chaplain, Pastor Patrick Doolichand.
Also attending the ceremony were National Security Advisor Captain Gerry Gouveia; Former Police Commissioner Floyd Mc Donald, DSS, DSM; senior officers and other ranks, and other retired senior officers of the Guyana Police Force.