Intelligence gathering vital to reducing crime
-Gajraj advises cops

Stabroek News
August 20, 1999

Minister of Home Affairs, Ronald Gajraj, yesterday reminded police officers that intelligence gathering could identify patterns of crime and help in the more efficient use of manpower and equipment.

Gajraj was addressing policemen during a tour of police stations on the West Bank Demerara, yesterday, which is part of an initiative to understand the constraints officers face in performing their duties and to look at opportunities to improve police efficiency.

Under the heavy clouds of a rainy morning, the minister accompanied by Permanent Secretary, Deryck Thompson, was greeted by Assistant Commissioner M. Geer, Inspector Trotz and Head of Vreed-en-Hoop Police Station, Corporal Khan. He later went on to Wales Police Station. After an inspection of both premises and close scrutiny of police records, Gajraj addressed the cops.

Although confident that the police force could deal with the crime situation he observed that criminal activities had become less the "cat burglar" type in the dead of night and more the confrontational early evening armed assaults upon families, where the perpetators do not bother to even wear masks and display a "go to hell attitude" towards the police and community. He warned those involved that "those who live by the gun shall have to face the consequences."

The minister lamented the lack of resources and while advocating the proper use of information, he petitioned for better communications and weapons that would give officers an advantage. As for police pay, he said that the government was "cognizant of the less than desirable situation." However, any rank who used the rationale that his performance should be linked to wages was permitting "a serious indictment of himself as an individual," he said.

He told policemen their transgressions could not be kept under a bushel as any stigma of corruption affected not only a particular policeman but the whole force and even relatives of those whose conduct had been brought into question. In the short term there might be a benefit but "integrity cannot be bought but is easily sold," Gajraj said.

Recognising the public's unrealistic expectations that the police should be "omnipresent and omnipotent" he advised that if an officer's actions are seen as professional and correct then the public will help. He warned against too much "rough and tumble"

in the wake of recent brutality allegations but said that many guilty persons are the first to accuse the police. And while pundits can criticize at their leisure in hindsight, an officer must make split second decisions involving life and death. He assured those present that if they discharged their duties in a professional manner he would always be behind them.

He urged officers to go to court as often as possible to see how colleagues give evidence as this would help in bringing more convictions. Too many acquittals caused by pressured prosecutors and poor presentations "kills the enthusiasm" to bring cases before the courts.

The minister went on to La Grange Police Station and later in the afternoon was due to hear the concerns of community policing groups from the area.

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