Police have handle on crime
-President assures private sector
Stabroek News
April 19, 2002

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President Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday briefed businessmen on the crime situation and assured them that round-the-clock efforts were being made to capture the five escapees from the Georgetown Prison.

A joint statement issued yesterday said the President updated the business community on efforts to apprehend the five escapees and on crime fighting in general.

Chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), Brian James, who was among the representatives of the private sector at the meeting, said that for security reasons the President could not give details of the action being taken to restore law and order.

James told Stabroek News that the general call of the private sector was to have the dialogue between the President and opposition leader, Desmond Hoyte restarted. He said the private sector recognised that once that process was ongoing, there was relative peace and stability which dissipated with the suspension of the process by the PNC/R.

The joint statement issued after the meeting said that the private sector had indicated a willingness to assist in the resumption of the dialogue process.

The private sector on Monday met Home Affairs Minister, Ronald Gajraj, and Commissioner of Police, Floyd McDonald, following a request ten days earlier, to discuss the crime situation. And the Office of the President on Tuesday invited the private sector to a briefing with the President yesterday. Gajraj, McDonald and Manniram Prashad accompanied the President.

James said that no solutions were offered nor a timetable for recapturing the escapees but the government team indicated that the police force was working on it and was conducting joint patrols with the army.

The joint statement said that the private sector made a number of suggestions and James indicated that this included community policing groups and for aerial reconnaissance to aid the policing process.

James said the meeting with the President sought to reinforce to the private sector that something was being done about the crime situation. He noted that the security forces' public relations has been deficient and persons have been going on national television and saying all sorts of things.

James added that the private sector appreciated the briefing with the President and was committed to continue to give its support for the fight against crime and the maintenance of law and order but businessmen were still very uneasy over the crime situation.

Since the five escapees stormed out of the Georgetown Prison on February 23 in a blaze of gunfire, they have eluded the police and are believed to be behind a spate of hijackings and robberies as well as the killing of Superintendent of Police, Leon Fraser. Those who escaped are Andrew Douglas, Dale Moore, Mark Fraser, Shawn Brown and Troy Dick.