Strike force needed

Stabroek News
July 18, 1998

Jamaica and Trinidad are the crime capitals of the West Indies. Regrettably, Guyana seems to be preparing to mount a challenge. In the last few weeks there seems to have been an upsurge in the invasion of homes at night in which citizens have been assaulted, terrorised and relieved of their possessions. Many people, especially in outlying areas, now sleep in fear.

What is the solution? In most cases, the bandits have guns. Hardly ever are they apprehended at the site though they are sometimes there for a little while. When they are notified, police are not sufficiently mobile and take too long to come. Worse, a large percentage are never caught so that there is an impression that it is open house.

Something needs to be done. Neither the Minister of Home Affairs nor the Commissioner of Police seem to have a sufficient sense of urgency. A variety of solutions may have to be considered, including the issuing of guns to householders, but the fundamental problem seems to be that the police are not sufficiently equipped with weapons and vehicles to present an urgent and credible challenge to the bandits. Even when summoned by a neighbour by the time they arrive it is usually too late.

It is a serious problem and constructive discussions are needed between the minister, the commissioner, business groups and interested citizens. Community policing groups may be able to help in some cases but what seems to be needed is credible strike forces in various regions which have working phones, access to fast vehicles and can be quickly mobilised. The phone numbers would have to be widely publicised in each area.

The Minister of Home Affairs should take some action. At the moment, there is a feeling of defencelessness and many citizens live in fear. There would be a lot of support, perhaps including financial contributions, for a pragmatic solution.