Wednesday, July 1, 2009

John Campbell Police Museum

John Campbell Police Museum

Located in the compound of the Guyana Police Headquarters, John Campbell Museum was established in recognition of the work of John Campbell a former Assistance Commissioner of Police, the museum that was instrumental in re-organizing in 1975 was named after him. Who was John Campbell?
John Campbell had served 37 years in the Guyana Police Force. Dedicating one’s entire working career to a particular service is in itself worthy of commendation, more so when one gives 42 years of unstunted service for the maintaining of law and order in one’s country.
Such an outstanding worker was retired Assistant Commissioner and former editor of the copper and Police Magazine. John Campbell could be described s a man of many pats having not only been a rounded police officer who served in several Divisions and Branches, but also was a dramatist, Playwright, Poet, Musician and Writer.
John was born on 19th October, 1925. He attended Freeburg Anglican, lodge congregational and Kingston Methodist Primary Schools, Matthews High School and the Guyanese College of modern education. H was enlisted in the Guyana Police Force in 1943. During his service in the force, he was a bugler in the Police Corps of Drums. He serve as a detective form 1949-1970 including (10) ten years in the Special Branch, Campbell headed several Divisions and Branches in the force. He served as Research Planning and Publications Officer, Commandant Police Training School and Force Public Relations Officer, Tactical Services unit, ‘C’ and ‘E’ Divisions. He graduated from the University of Guyana with a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in history. When he retired he was in charge of Public Relations in the force.
He came out of retirement in 1981 to head the Special Constabulary as Assistant Commissioner. During this period he edited the Police Copper and re-activated the drama groups of the force. He handed over the Mantle of the constabulary to Assistant commissioner R. King in 1985. John was noted for his versatility in several fields despite being a Police Officer. He was editor of the Police Magazine from 1968-1975 and also edited the copper during 1972-1975; he served as Chairman of the Police Association from 1965-1967, and of the indoor games section of the Police Sports Club; he was elected as President of the Mess Committee of inspectors’ and Sergeants’ Mess; He also served as Chairman of the Police Consumers Co-operative Society. In 1957 he won the university of the West Indies Award for writing the best Guyanese Play “ Come back to Melda” at the National Drama Festival ,in 1964, he copped second prize at the National Playwriting competition with the Play, “Dhanwattee”, third prize for Ghandi Memorial Art competition with the painting “Crossby Office”. His paintings still adorn the officer’s mess and special constabulary headquarters.
He also won first prize for composing the words of the Police Association Theme Song “Advance Together”, and second prize in the Christmas Annual Poetry competition 1981 with “Border Blues”.

John Campbell Police Museum History

In 1975 John Campbell was instrumental in re-organizing the police museum that was
In 1932 much credit has to be given to the few police officers whose vision it was to ensure that the history of the Police Force was preserved through the museum which was first housed at the Police Depot, now referred to as the tactical Services Unit (T.S.U). During the same year it was removed to the Criminal Investigation Department (C.I.D) where it remained until 1938.
However, in 1938 the collection was increasing at an unprecedented rate. The absence of trained personnel had an adverse effect on the development of the museum.
In 1948, after ten years in activity the museum was relocated at the Police Depot but, remained under the administrative control of the Criminal Investigation Department (C.I.D). Then in 1975, taking a critical look at the museum between 1948-1975 one got the impression that it was never a priority of the Force. Its success to some extent rested on the initiative of officers who were mindful of preserving the history of the Police Force throughout this unit. At this point the late John Campbell ho was at the time Research, Planning, and Publication Officer took the initiative of reorganising the museum. As a result of the long period of inactivity many of the artefacts were either damaged of suffered some degree of decay. In the circumstances, John Campbell had set himself the task of contracting Divisional Officers throughout the country with a view to replacing the depleted collection. Success to some degree attended his efforts.
That being the case, in 1989 the museum was now given a new lease on life. Senior Superintendent H. Greene, the new officer-in- charge of Research, Planning and Publication assumed responsibility for the museums rehabilitation programme. It was removed from the C.I.D. Headquarters to its present location, first floor, and Western end of the auditorium Felix Austin Police College. Consequent upon the museum being located at the college it fell under the administrative control of the commandant, Assistant Commissioner L. Gilkes. To coincide with the Force’s 150th anniversary celebrations the museum was opened to members of the public on July 24, 1989 five days a week.
In 1993, the vicissitudinary circumstances which have been associated with the Police Museum during its sixty odds years of existence show a profound determination on the part of those officers to put a premium of preservation of the history of the Police Force throughout this unit, the museum.
After twenty months of preparation Mrs. V. Campbell, wife of the late John Campbell, officially opened the John Campbell Police Museum on Thursday, October 14, 1993.
Some Artifacts At the Museum
The Police Force Crest
A cursory glance at the police force crest often referred to by ranks as the badge, has its roots firmly set in medieval times. Five components woven together form this remarkable heritable, the ‘Guyana Police Force Crest’.
Mounted on the of this historic crest is the symbolic Amerindian Headdress or Cacique Crown which was given preference to the British Crown at the instance of Guyana’s independence status. It now holds a place of distinction among the crowns worn by the Greeks, the Romans and the British.

Origin of the Crown
In the quest for knowledge of things historical, cultural or heritable our approach is usually one of expectancy; but at times success does not always attend our efforts, thus leaving us drained as it were. This is the case of the origin of the Crown. Nothing definitive, but, the French gives us a clue in the word couronne.
The scroll- The circle on the crest on which is marked Guyana Police represents the scroll which was used during Roman times. Paper was unknown then but the skin of sheep, goat’s e.t.c, was prepared as parchment and used as writing material.
The jaguar-Felis onca is the largest member of the cat family in Guyana and is considered among the great cats of the world, the third biggest after the tiger and the lion. Large specimens attain a length of just over ten feet from tip to tip. They are solitary and secretive, elusive in ways that suggest great intelligence. They are strong and appear formidable.
Stalk of Sugar cane- Guyana’s oldest agricultural crop. Around 1658 Dutch Jews settled on the Pomeroon River and by 1660 the Village of new Middleburg had become the centre of a flourishing settlement due to the cultivation of Sugar Cane. In the absence of mechanical means of crushing cane, wooden rollers were employed. The first mill to be operated by horses was erected in 1664 by Jan Doensen in Essequibo.

SPIKED HELMET – used by the police force in times past.

RIOT HELMET-used by the Guyana Police force in times past

COMPRESSOR- used to compress marijuana for the purpose of concealment.


  1. The textual information about this museum is accurate, but the photo there is not of John Campbell after whom this museum is named.

    John Campbell II

    1. Agreed. That is not John Campbell the former Asst. Commissioner of Police afetr whom the museum is named.