Gajraj announces incentives for better community policing Guyana Chronicle
June 14, 2002

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MINISTER of Home Affairs, Mr. Ronald Gajraj, has announced incentives for community policing groups (CPGs), in acknowledgement of the important role being played by them and the selfless and distinguished service they have given to making their communities safer.

He also pledged a monetary donation of $160,000 from his Ministry to aid the process, when he addressed the seventh annual general meeting of the Community Policing National Executive Conference in the annexe of Police Officers’ Mess, Eve Leary, Georgetown, last Sunday.

“I am pleased to note that, because of commitment and genuine concern on the part of the majority of members and exemplary leadership quality displayed by the executives at the various levels, community policing has, by and large, met with resounding success,” Gajraj asserted.

A section of the gathering also at the seventh annual Community Policing National Executive Conference in the annexe of Police Officers’ Mess, Eve Leary, Georgetown.
Echoing the sentiments of Acting Commissioner of Police Floyd Mc Donald, the Minister said: “Apart from individual communities, the country as a whole has benefitted tremendously from community policing.”

Making the announcement amidst accolades for the national community policing body, he said:

· the Guyana Police Force will establish, within the Office of the Commissioner of Police, a special unit, dedicated to community

policing, that will address, among other things, training,

acquisition of equipment and other resources, for which funding will be provided by the Government;

· members of CPGs in active duty would benefit from an enhanced welfare package that would be put in place with immediate effect, for law enforcement personnel to cater for occupational risks;

· benefits to be derived by members of CPGs in active duty would be no less favourable than for members of Guyana Police Force in similar circumstances;

· Government will initiate a policy position which allows for the granting of duty-free concessions for the acquisition of vehicles and expedite the securing of licences for firearms used by CPGs and

· as long as a member of the Police Force or a CPG is in active duty and sustains personal injury, loss, damage or death, the individual would be entitled to the same benefits as a policeman, regardless if it occurs on the first day of service and, in the case of death, the family stands to benefit.

Gajraj cautioned, though, that those conditions will not allow for complacency and are purely discretionary.

He made it clear that such concessions are not automatic, in the sense that, not because of the formation of a group, people could apply for approval to have certain firearms and possibly vehicles and benefit from the facilities.

It remains discretionary and the Commissioner of Police must be satisfied as to the sobriety of the group and its honesty of purpose and persons within, whose names are recommended to be endorsed on their firearm licences, must satisfy or withstand the scrutiny that will be conducted by the Police to ensure they are:

· fit and proper persons into whose custody, care and control a firearm can be entrusted and

· that they successfully complete the training they must go through before being permitted to be in possession and control of any firearm.

Minister Gajraj disclosed that the issue of legislation governing community policing is being addressed.

He received a copy of the Constitution of Guyana National Community Policing Executive and its affiliate groups from the Commissioner of Police in April but it is not the final document.

Gajraj said he proposes to meet, very shortly, with the executives, the Commissioner and others, for preliminary discussion on the draft.

But he underscored the importance of the legislation, especially as community policing is moving, the world over, from being a promising experiment to becoming “the wave of the future”.

Stressing the necessity for a collaborative approach to crime prevention, involving the active support of the Police and the wider community, the minister said community policing is about preventing criminal activities and offers a cost effective way of making communities safer.

“The active involvement of residents, as well as the Police, in this enterprise results in an increased capacity to resist crime, reduce fear and brings about the restoration of civic vitality which can be considered development within the community and, in turn, improves the quality of life…” Gajraj said.

He said the Police, operating with constraints and limitations cannot, by themselves, successfully and comprehensively fight crime and, therefore, in accordance with Article 32 of the Constitution, it is the joint duty of the state, the society and every citizen to combat and prevent crime and other violations of the law and take care of and protect public property.

Minister Ajar charged the Police Administration and the National Community Policing Executive to make sure adequate mechanisms are in place and maintained for adequately addressing, with minimum delay, any problem that may threaten the successful operation of the partnership between the Police and the community at all levels.

Although generally appreciative of community policing, he was critical of those members of CPGs who abuse their authority and warned that kind of behaviour will not be countenanced.

Pointing out that community policing is not a programme but an approach, Gajraj said how the groups interact with other people at all levels is crucial.