McDonald to succeed Lewis

Stabroek News
August 6, 2001

Deputy Police Commissioner Floyd McDonald will fill the breach when Police Commissioner Laurie Lewis demits office on September 3, Minister of Home Affairs Ronald Gajraj announced yesterday.

Delivering the main address at the Sixth Annual Community Policing Conference at the Police Officers' Mess, Eve Leary, Gajraj said that while the police force would feel the loss of Lewis' departure he was grateful that McDonald would be there to work with members of the force and the community policing groups.

The minister said that McDonald would be taking over on a historic date, September 3, the anniversary of the start of the Second World War, "and further, I say not." World War II began on September 3, 1939.

Gajraj said that he had had a close working relationship with Lewis and on many occasion had had differences of opinion on how to handle some difficult matters, but by the end of the day they would have arrived at mutually agreed solutions.

Both Lewis and Gajraj said that they had been associated with McDonald for a lengthy period of time and expressed confidence in his ability to manage the force. Lewis said that McDonald was not new to administering the affairs of the police force effectively, as he had already done so on many occasions in his absence.

Speaking about the status of community policing groups in society, Gajraj urged that after six years, they should be looking at legislation to protect members, instead of having to depend on somebody's hospitality as is, more or less, currently the case.

Stressing that the role of the community policing groups was one of crime prevention, he cautioned them about their involvement in "remedying" the crime situation. While community policing was here to stay, he said, the role of the police must always be maintained and enhanced.

The minister noted that the task of the police was made even harder by illicit drug trafficking, drug abuse, unemployment and questionable values being transmitted to youths, among others.

Guyana, he said, had to move now in the direction of converting properties, acquired through the illicit drugs' trade, into rehabilitation centres as Trinidad and Tobago had done with the property of convicted Trinidadian drug dealer Dole Chadee, who was hanged for murder.

For your dedication: Outgoing Commissioner of Police Laurie Lewis, was yesterday presented with an award from the National Policing Group for his dedication to the group. In this photograph, Rural Sergeant Pamela Mendonza is seen presenting the award to Lewis. (A Ken Moore photo)

He noted, however, that the effectiveness of the police would always be dependent on the co-operation and support the force received from the community. This support, he said, was much needed in crime solving, but guarantees of confidentiality must also be assured by the police and the community police.

Emphasizing the importance of community policing for the security of community and national borders in the absence of police stations or outposts, Gajraj said that people should understand the constraints in terms of resources, including human resources, with which the police force was faced. He said it was not always logistically possible to have a police outpost in every community, and because of the geography of the country, especially in the hinterland, communication and transportation were not always available - hence the need for community support and involvement.

Putting up an outpost without ranks would lead to it becoming a white elephant and a source of ridicule. He also cautioned about political decisions which could give rise to security threats.