President meets senior Police Officers on crime situation meet private sector team this week
Guyana Chronicle
June 5, 2002

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SENIOR Police Officers from around the country yesterday met President Bharrat Jagdeo on the crime situation, the Office of the President reported.

"The meeting examined the crime situation and explored a number of additional initiatives to deal with the current and changing crime situation in Guyana and the Caribbean, in the short and medium terms", the office said in a brief statement.

At the meeting at the Office of the President in Georgetown were Home Affairs Minister, Mr. Ronald Gajraj, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon, Police Commissioner, Mr. Floyd McDonald, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr. Winston Felix and senior officers of the Police Force.

A source said there were about 20 of the top officers of the Force, including Divisional Commanders from around the country, at the meeting.

No details were available on the meeting but the official said there was an ongoing review and examination of the situation and crime-fighting approaches with the security forces.

There has been an escalation of violent crimes in Georgetown and parts of the East Coast Demerara since five dangerous criminals escaped from the Georgetown Prison on February 23 last, killing a young Prison Officer and shooting a female warder in the head as they fled.

Four Policemen have been killed and businessmen and others slain in the attacks by heavily armed bandits in a series of daring hijackings, kidnappings and robberies.

The five escapees have been linked to the murders, robberies and other crimes and Police have offered a $10M reward for information leading to their recapture.

The latest attack came Saturday when bandits shot and killed a cambio cashier in a daring daylight robbery attack in the city - less than 48 hours after a gang murdered a young rural constable in a brazen gun assault on a Georgetown Police Station.

Ramnauth Persaud, 44, called `Jack', cashier at the Commerce House Cambio on Regent Street, Georgetown, was killed when gunmen struck at the business place at around 09:00 hrs Saturday.

Owner Kennard Gobin was critically wounded, and a City Constable and a guard at the cambio were also wounded as the gang escaped with millions of dollars, shooting at the City Hall compound across the street.

Panic gripped the usually busy shopping area as shoppers and passersby dashed to find cover from bullets fired by the gang.

Police Constable Andy Atwell died shortly after 22:00 hrs last week Thursday, when gunmen armed with high-powered weapons drove up outside the Alberttown Police Station in a movie-like scenario and opened fire, gunning down the Policeman, wounding another on duty and riddling the building with bullet holes.

Police said the gunmen drove up in two motorcars, one in front of the station on Fourth Street and the other on Albert Street, and "blazed away at the station from both sides".

Private Sector Commission (PSC) officials will be meeting President Jagdeo later this week to discuss, among other things, the recent spate of criminal activities and to determine specifically how the sector can help.

PSC Chairman, Mr. Brian James said the private sector body had an emergency session last Friday to assess the situation and had written President Jagdeo seeking an audience with him to ascertain exactly how the private sector can help.

He told the Chronicle yesterday that the Office of the President had responded positively to the request for a meeting and that he, along with a group of other private sector officials will be meeting the President later this week.

"We need a resolution (to this problem)," he told this newspaper Monday, pointing out that the recent crime wave has reached crisis proportions with Policemen and Police stations being attacked.

"People are thinking of closing off and packing up," he said, adding that the rise in crime has severely hit the private sector.

According to James, the situation in the country has taken a turn for the worse and this "total lawlessness" needs to be addressed immediately.

He noted that the business community is suffering severely as a result of the escalation in violent crimes, murders and criminal activities and the fear this is causing among Guyanese.

Private sector officials had pledged full commitment and support to the ongoing national anti-crime campaign when they met President Jagdeo at the Office of the President in April.

Also at that closed-door meeting were Gajraj and McDonald.

The Government Information Agency (GINA) said that at the meeting, Mr. Jagdeo had assured private sector representatives that the Police Force and the Guyana Defence Force were working feverishly to apprehend the five escapees - Troy Dick, Dale Moore, Andrew Douglas, Mark Fraser and Shawn Brown.

"I shared with the private sector ideas on the crime situation and what we are doing, a number of initiatives we have been engaged in. Many of these issues we cannot speak about openly, but the Police and the Army are both working together on strong initiatives to apprehend the five persons," the President had told GINA.

He noted that the private sector shared ideas with the Government and "we agreed to work together."

According to a joint statement issued after that meeting, the private sector made a number of suggestions that were noted by the President, and pledged its cooperation and support for the current anti-crime campaign.