'Operation plaster of Paris'
GDF to stay on in Buxton until stability returns
No sign of escapees in backlands - Pompey
June 1, 2002
Articles on the police
Members of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) will maintain their presence in the Buxton community even though they have repaired the breaches on the railway embankment since it is their opinion that a lot of work is needed to ensure a return to normal and stable life in the area.
The GDF ranks, under the command of Major Randolph Beresford, completed what they call `Operation plaster of Paris' last Wednesday when they repaired breaches on the embankment at a cost of $200,000, funded by the army.
They also received some fifteen tonnes of cold mix from Dipcon.
As a result of the repairs the railway embankment has been reopened to normal vehicular traffic.
Residents of Buxton, East Coast Demerara, had dug three trenches on the embankment following the fatal shooting of a resident, Shaka Blair, by members of the Police Target Special Squad. The residents had claimed that the young man was executed by the police and dug the trenches on the embankment and on streets in the village to keep the police out since they were said to be afraid that more residents would have been targeted.
According to Major Beresford, who chaired a press conference held at Camp Ayanganna along with Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Pompey, the army is considering mending the roads in the village but a decision has not been taken as yet.
Pompey said that barriers which were placed in the vicinity of the villages of Enterprise and Coldingen on the embankment, both on the East Coast, have also been removed.
He reported that since the road was reopened inter-village exchanges and commerce have been re-started between Buxton and adjacent villages.
Further, school attendance and other social activities in the affected area have also returned to normal.
The Lieutenant Colonel told reporters that "a good an cordial relationship has developed and exists between the GDF ranks at Buxton and the majority of peace loving and law abiding residents of this community."
Chairman of the Buxton/Foulis Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC), Randolph Blair, had told this newspaper that residents were wary of the uniformed presence of army ranks in the village.
According to Pompey, following the visit of Deputy Commissioner of Police, Winston Felix to the area there was a marked lessening of tensions between villagers and the police and a gradual return to previous levels of policing.
Felix had visited the village a few days after the army had set up a base in the area and he had spoken to residents and listened to their concerns over the death of Shaka Blair.
However, Pompey said they have noted with deep concern the social decay that has attended the absence of normal policing over a two-month period and the rejection of the traditional moral authority of community leaders.
"This situation which has been manipulated by a few bent on evil has led to negative behaviour particularly among youths and has resulted in an entire community being stigmatised and labelled as criminal," the army officer said.
He pointed out that it is not a healthy development and suggested that specific measures must be adopted to deal with the few.
One of the things mentioned by the officer when asked to elaborate is the smoking in public of marijuana and other illicit drugs.
He said this issue along with others would have to be dealt with by the Guyana Police Force and the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU). According to him, there have been specific reports about the rejection of "the moral authorities, the moral suasion from the level of the community leaders where people are challenging the leadership of community leaders."
Pompey said that the continuing army presence in the village is meant to facilitate a return to normalcy and stability in the area.
"We feel that the majority of people in those areas want to return to normalcy, want to return to what existed before the upheaval of two months ago," he said.
The officer is optimistic that eventually life will return to normal within that area which will allow for the exit of the security forces.
There have been several reports that criminals have been using Buxton as a haven and persons have reported seeing five of Guyana's most dangerous and wanted criminals in the backdam of the village. The five, Troy Dick, Shawn Browne, Mark Fraser, Andrew Douglas and Dale Moore escaped from the Georgetown prison on February 23 and since then the country has seen a number of armed robberies and murders along with the death of four police officers. On Thursday night Rural Constable Andy Atwell was shot and killed after two carloads of gunmen riddled the Alberttown Police Station with bullets.
Pompey told reporters that over the past few days the GDF had undertaken some backland patrols, based on information from the police which suggested that criminals might be operating behind Buxton.
"...You agree with me that the GDF is better equipped and trained to deal with these types of matters, or these patrols. That information as I said was to ascertain the presence of the criminals as was reported. However, I dare say that those patrols thus far have not indicated the presence of criminals in these areas," Pompey said.