Police working on plan to mend fractured relations
Stabroek News
May 4, 2002

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Acting Police Commissioner Floyd McDonald says the police are working on a plan to mend relations with the Buxton and Friendship villages following several clashes between the law enforcers and residents.

It has been argued that the poor relationship with the villagers has prevented the police from properly discharging its duties especially in relation to the search for the February 23 prison escapees.

McDonald reiterated at a press conference on Thursday that no instructions had been given to any member of the force not to go into the Buxton/Friendship community.

Sources have told Stabroek News that while the police are very visible on the Buxton/Friendship Public Road their presence is not obvious along the Railway Embankment Road where a number of criminal activities have been reported recently.

Responding to this concern, McDonald told the press conference that the police would go to any part of the country.

Residents of Friendship had told Stabroek News that for several days the police had not visited the scene of a shooting two Fridays ago when Brian Chester and his reputed wife Dionne Glasgow were hurt. This was also reported in the Stabroek News.

On Thursday, McDonald did not respond to this specific allegation.

He would only say that the police have "issued a release debunking that notion that we are afraid to go into a certain location in the country. That's not true."

Asked whether the police had gone into Friendship in response to the shooting of Chester and his reputed wife, McDonald said he was "advised that they (the police) did not go in immediately, but they did go in after." He added that he was "not advised" that they had gone to the scene where the shootings took place, but he "assume(d) that they went in." The shootings took place on Brush Dam near where a butcher was robbed and at the corner of the Railway Embankment Road and Friendship main road.

Cautioning the media about the use of names of suspects because this posed problems to law enforcers and to victims, McDonald said, "if any names were mentioned by the police it was more or less an error." In a release last Saturday the police identified prison escapee Shawn Brown and wanted man Compton Cambridge as being the persons who shot Chester and his reputed wife.

McDonald said that he did not like the names of suspects being mentioned openly in the media, because it caused a lot of problems. He said that the police had been receiving a number of reports of sightings of the prison escapees at various locations including Georgetown, the Linden/Soesdyke Highway, the East Bank Demerara and East Coast Demerara. However, he said that there was a need to do proper intelligence work before going into any area or there could be collateral damage.

Asked what the police were doing to improve their relationship with the Buxton/Friendship community, McDonald said: "We are working on a plan, which we cannot disclose now." The police and villagers have clashed several times since last year's general elections. The villagers have accused the police of brutality and extra-judicial killings.

Urging that the people of Buxton respect law and order, he said that some people there were using the Shaka Blair killing by police as an excuse to engage in lawless activities.

He recalled that during the recent police officers' conference, a member of the Anti-Narcotics Unit on the East Coast Demerara conducted a raid on one of the stalls on the Railway Embankment Road in the area and a crowd of about 20 persons came up and released the stallholder. "That is the type of lawlessness we have to encounter in that village," he said, adding that the policeman reacted in a manner that was appropriate at the time.