President calls on Police to get tough with offenders

by Wendella Davidson
Guyana Chronicle
May 5, 2000

THE carnage on Guyana's roads has been described as "disgusting" by President Bharrat Jagdeo, who yesterday, called on the Police to "get tough" with traffic offenders in order to bring the situation under control.

He said too, efforts are being made to utilise all other resources within and outside the Police Force to effectively marginalise crime.

But the President is of the view, that there should wider discussions and debates involving civil society for more suggestions to be heard on ways of dealing with crime.

President Jagdeo's remarks were made at the opening session of the Annual Police Officers Conference at the Police Officers Mess, Eve Leary.

He called on the Police to be sensitive to violence especially when it is perpetrated against women and children.

In addition, he expressed the hope that the Judiciary and the Magistracy, will within the context of the law, deal seriously with such matters.

Remarking that he has taken a firm line on violence against women and children, and that society should adapt a "no nonsense attitude" on this issue, the President declared, "The abuse of our children must stop."

He is of the view that there should be a halt to violence in the society, and that the Guyanese people should strive to achieve this.

President Jagdeo, who is also Commander of the Disciplined Services, expressed satisfaction at the level of service provided by the Police. He described their work as "excellent".

He contended that too often, the Police Force is taken for granted and he drew attention to the fact that over the years the Police have been operating under severe constraints.

Discarding his prepared speech, President Jagdeo called for the "de-politicising" of a number of issues which, according to him, have no place in the political arena.

He pledged to work aggressively on a daily basis to keep politics out of the administrative arena.

Reiterating that the Police have played an important role in the country, President Jagdeo said this can only become evident, if an examination of comparative statistics is made.

The President also referred to an article in the Jamaica `Gleaner' newspaper last month headlined, "25 dead in one week", which according to him, is a reflection of the serious crime situation in Jamaica.

He said too, a similar situation exists in Trinidad and Tobago and in other Caribbean countries which allocate huge sums of money to the Police.

Commenting on the issue of inadequate resources, Mr Jagdeo said there is need to capitalise on other resources to help fight crime, and he hailed the work of the Community Policing Groups.

He admitted to being amazed at the level of organisation of the Community Policing movement and pledged the continued support of the Government to the body.

But he said, the Police must encourage participation and do much more in involving the community in the fight against crime.

Community Policing according to him is vital, and has taken ground in industrialised countries.

According to the President, discussions are on-going at the Defence Board level in relation to the role of the Army in supporting law enforcement agencies.

But he said, there needs to be further discussions before a firm decision is made.

However, until this is done, the Police Force will have to develop itself through training and with the help of the Community Policing Groups.

Noting that there are plans to increase training in the Force, the President said that efforts are being made to secure places for officers at overseas courses.

On the issue of narcotics, President Jagdeo said Government will continue to allocate resources to help fight the scourge which is affecting the country's youths.

He added that the construction of a rehabilitation centre, which has been sidelined for sometime, will now become a focal point of discussion.

Meanwhile, the media houses were urged to exercise some amount of understanding when interacting with the Police, who according to the President, have a difficult task to carry out under severe conditions.

Before addressing the conference, President Jagdeo inspected a guard of honour of Police Officers.

Commissioner of Police Laurie Lewis, in his remarks, emphasised the need for training at all levels of the Force.

The development of a relationship among the Police, the Government and the media is essential, he said.

The Commissioner too, alluded to the "unyielding pressure" from the media