Inertia seems to be the main tactic in the war against crime
Stabroek News
April 21, 2002

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Dear Editor,

Once again the Government of Guyana leads the way forward in designing and executing innovative strategies to deal with the problems besetting our nation. Take for instance, the recent crime wave. Government’s approach to the problem has been forthright, imaginative and decisive. The following appears to be government’s blueprint for dealing with crime in Guyana today.

1 Blame everyone else. Declare that the PNC is soft on crime and indeed offers aid and comfort to criminals. Ignore the fact that the party is composed of mainly conservative god-fearing people...butchers, bakers, drivers, teachers, nurses, clerks, laborers and the like. Good community relations/intelligence gathering strategy there, considering that these are the very same people accused of protecting the “Gang of Five” currently terrorizing the country. Add to this enemies list the “tele-activists”, reporters, the unions, Buxtonians and all who dare to ask difficult questions or present varying viewpoints. Apart from that, do nothing.

2 Admit nothing and deny everything. Issue statements that completely obfuscate the truth, for the benefit of the media and the public. After all, this is serious police business and the public simply couldn’t handle the truth anyway. As a corollary, toss a bone or two to the media that so thoroughly offends their intelligence and sensibilities, they will give up in disgust. That way absolute secrecy is maintained, and real police work can commence unhindered. Tell ‘em what you think they want to hear. And do nothing.

3 Press into service as a hatchet man, a PR practitioner widely respected for his integrity. Sell him a bale of goods that he can then resell to a suspicious public. Information is a precious commodity in short supply. It must be doled out judiciously. Hope that he does not destroy his career and good name in the process. Promise more openness and accountability. Continue to do nothing.

4 Turn loose the party spearchuckers and spinmeisters on the media. Have them inundate the papers and airwaves with outrageous attacks against the opposition. Concoct incredible assertions, like the sighting of members of the “gang of five” in the Blair funeral procession (now personally, that’s my favourite). Attribute these commentaries to fictitious persons and occasionally sign a real person’s mine, without permission. All this nickel and dime name-calling and nit-picking is classic textbook strategy for deflecting attention from more trivial issues... like aprehending the gang and other assorted rogues and scoun-drels. After all, somebody’s gotta fill the letters columns in the Daily Fishwrap. Above all else, do nothing.

5 Maintain high visibility....well, at least at the funerals of policemen killed in the line of duty. Use them as political photo-opportunities and platforms to further declare government’s resolve to solve the growing dossier of unsolvable crimes dating back to Monica Reece. Declare that government has the situation well in hand. Condemn other politicos for not being as strident. Make stirring speeches. Do nothing else. Inertia is a valuable weapon in this battle.

6 Turn loose the “Black Clothes” on hapless citizens. Gun down a few in cold blood, then maintain that they were killed while attacking the police. For good measure, kill one person at least five times each, just to make sure. Can’t be too thorough. Draw links between these victims, the “Gang of Five”, Osama bin Laden, Mickey Mouse and the PLO if it is expedient. Yep, dead men don’t talk and forensic science is rocket science in these parts.

With some luck secrets will go to the grave with the dead, right? Don’ tek worries, man! Promise thorough, impartial and immediate investigations. Drink some rum, watch some cricket and talk some more. But do nothing.

One can imagine social scientists of the future scratching their heads while contemplating these groundbreaking strategies with absolute wonderment. Maybe the Guyana government and the GPF can export their crime-fighting techniques to Scotland Yard and the FBI. After all, they have this annoying habit of doing something about crime and justice in their own countries.

Yours faithfully,

Gordon Burnett