Gun-related crimes cannot be only priority -Luncheon
-rapid deployment unit planned

By Andrew Richards
Stabroek News
October 2, 1999

Government is looking at enhancing the resources of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) in a holistic manner and, given the prevalence of other crimes and social ills, to address the issue of gun-related crimes alone is not a priority presently.

"At the end of the day I believe that there would be financial attention paid to the creation of a better capacity to address gun crimes, but it could not be at the expense of our efforts to address even more prevalent crimes and other nuisances..." Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon declared yesterday at a press conference held at the GTV 11 studios.

Luncheon made these remarks in answer to a question on what would be done on the pleas from the police for additional resources in the wake of last week's daring America Street robbery. Police Commissioner Laurie Lewis had said that the police were in dire need of protective gear, heavier firepower, vehicles and training specific to these types of crimes. He was speaking after three men in the America Street robbery eluded capture in an East Bank Demerara canefield.

Luncheon stated government had previously announced it will adopt a dedicated approach to strengthen the resource base of the GPF.

But he pointed out that the call for heavier weapons and other means of combating crimes where sophisticated weapons are used warrants an examination of what priority has to be given to that type of crime, given the budgetary constraints.

"We have to be aware of the complex nature of allocating resources for specific purposes to enhance law enforcement," he stated.

According to Luncheon, if comparisons were made on the prevalence of gun crimes, traffic crimes and noise nuisance, one would get an idea of where the additional funds should be allocated.

He said this does not mean that gun crimes would not attract government's attention but, as the recent campaigns by the police on traffic offences and noise nuisance have shown, there are other areas, too, which need to be addressed.

He emphasised that the authorities must look at "the total picture" and not just one "solitary aspect". Luncheon pointed out that the enhancement of communications and transport in the police force is critical and government has commended the private sector which has contributed in these areas.

In the fight against crime of the nature of the recent America Street robbery where sophisticated weapons were used, there needs to be greater collaboration between the army and the police, Luncheon said.

He stated that the call for a dedicated body of personnel from both agencies to be readily available in the event of such incidents will be addressed.

He disclosed that government will also be looking at the possible disbursement of some of "the considerable resources" available to the military to the GPF.

This could be effected with minimum difficulty, he said, and has been done in other CARICOM countries. "It has always been our intention to forge a greater relationship between the police and the military to confront the criminal elements in our society," Luncheon stated.

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