Peace - Not mischief Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
April 13, 2002

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NO ONE is really safe when armed and desperate criminals are on the warpath, or, in the case of the five fugitives from justice, on the run.

And no one, no party, organisation or group, should give any encouragement whatsoever, irrespective of political persuasion or ethnic origin, whether employed or unemployed, to criminal elements who have succeeded in recent months in creating such fear and tension in this country.

Encouraging or harbouring such elements can, ironically, prove a haunting experience with the friends, political allies or, worse, their own family members falling victim to the exploits of the criminals. It is like playing with fire.

It is now seven weeks since the criminals made their escape from the Georgetown Prison, killing one prison officer and severely wounding another as they went on a rampage to create more horrors for law-abiding citizens.

Since then, there has been a noticeable increase in criminal acts, including a spate of car hijackings. Tragically, the very courageous and committed Superintendent Leon Fraser was to lose his life in the manhunt for the escaped prisoners who are believed to have had a hand in his murder.

While Fraser's grief-stricken colleagues of the Target Special Squad of the Police Force continue to risk their lives in combating the criminals and continue their search for the fugitives from justice, they have been assailed with verbal abuse from the lawless and even a political demand for the scrapping of the TSS.

Accusations and Ill-will
In the face of accusations and misrepresentations, and the general ill-will being generated against the Police Force, Commissioner Floyd McDonald has taken a firm and principled position in defence of the Force and in reminding the populace at large of the importance of getting public support in the war against crime.

The Commissioner has pointed out that having a special ant-crime squad in the Force was nothing new, recalling, for examples, the existence in earlier years of what had existed as the so-called `Bongo Squad’ of crime busters.

"These are professionally trained members of the Force who are risking their lives for others to live in peace and safety", said Commissioner McDonald, adding: "There are no good reasons to disband, or whatever others may say, any of the special anti-crime squads that we have in all regions of the country".

The ranks of the Force are guided by a code of discipline and those who violate the code have to pay the consequences.

The recently constituted Police Complaints Authority under the chairmanship of retired Chancellor of the Judiciary, Cecil Kennard, was established to guard as much the public's interest against abuse of police powers as to ensure conformity to professional discipline by members of the Force.

Ridiculing and making life more difficult for members of the security forces at a time when they are stressed out, sometimes working around the clock, in the battle against the criminals, seems very cowardly and anti-patriotic.

At the same time, those elements within the Force whose actions or conduct may have contributed to tarnishing the image of an entire institution, whether by seeking bribes to perform their duties, or in resorting to excessive and unlawful force in dealing with people in their custody, need to speedily mend their ways. This would be in their interest and the greater good of achieving a better relationship with the public in the fight against the criminals.

So far as any demand to dismantle any section or unit within the Force is concerned, the Commissioner of Police is quite on target in resisting any such pressure. And he needs to know from representatives of all sections of this country, including the business and religious sectors, as well as the labour movement, that he has their support.

For to genuflect to the current pressures would be to open a veritable Pandora's box for mischief and mayhem.