The new anti-crime measures What the People Say about:
By Andre Haynes
Stabroek News
June 15, 2002

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President Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday announced new anti-crime initiatives, which included an additional $100M to boost the capacity of the Guyana Police Force and the creation of an elite force to battle criminals and acts of domestic terror. We asked the man/woman-in-the-street for their reactions to his announcement.

Mahendra Nagamootoo - sports personality: `The Guyana Defence Force should play a greater role in the anti-crime initiatives. People are losing their lives! I donít even feel safe walking on the streets after darkness sets in, or practising in the early hours of the morning. I believe the initiatives themselves are a step in the right direction for the President, but the army should have been included in any initiative to combat crime.í

Sean Sobers - gospel singer/barber: `Do they expect people to believe these things? Itís a good move, especially providing the money to the families of the slain officers. But thereís always a lot of talk when it concerns big money. This is something that should have been done earlier. They have allowed things to escalate and they are now out of control. Itís very hard for the public to actually believe they would do something like this. As for the creation of a crime force, I believe it will have to be monitored. Instead of dealing with the police, they should have dealt with the army. There is talk of training, what we need now is something immediate. We canít wait six months or a year.í

Vinhood Karran - teacher: ĎItís too late now. They waited until everything has escalated. Money canít buy back those lives that were lost. It is `One People, One Nation and One Destiny,í and we need to work hard as a people. This is another generation, we have a young president who was chosen to represent the nation. He should. More jobs need to be created. There are a lot of educated people who are frustrated. They go on to commit educated crimes. But the fight against crime has to start somewhere and the initiatives are the first step.í

Andre Kellman - public sector employee: `The crime scenario didnít start yesterday, there have been a number of contributory factors. It has been evident that crime would have escalated. In the past, there were a lot of proposals and they were not adhered to. There was a reduction of our law enforcement agencies and our budget did not move in sync with the development of crime. The U.S. government has been sending deportees and we have not been able to accommodate these men. How are they to live? The initiatives announced by the President are a good start and hopefully with the right structure, these programmes will be managed properly. Education should also be part of the initiatives. The force needs to attract qualified people: You canít put a gun in a personís hand, and they never sat SSEE or CXC. Itís like asking the cat to watch the milk. They canít think beyond a certain level, it isnít their fault.í

Wendy de Florimonte - housewife: ĎIsnít it a little too late? The situation has gotten so far out of hand. This should have been done since the inception, since the jailbreak. The government should have seen this coming down. I send my children to school everyday and I have to think, will they be home safe? They have waited until so many people have died and a police station was attacked. Well at least he has taken a step. The nation has been sitting at home, wondering just what the government is doing. One would think that the pressure of the current situation has made him do it.í

Elke Rodrigues - private sector employee: ĎI think that crime is developing and we canít do anything to stop it because we are not compatible with the technology used by the criminals. These initiatives should have been implemented earlier. Another problem that was not addressed was the police giving out information: They give too much information to people who should not have any access to such information. As for developing a special crime force, there should be more stringent guidelines for them. At this time you canít differentiate bandits from the police. The possibility exists that this new force could abuse their power because anything is possible.

George Scotland - GGMC auditor: `The initiatives are not bad, but this should have been done a long while ago. The government waited until things have become out of hand. They need to make sure they have control. The Target Special Squad is the reason why the police are not getting the type of cooperation they want. They need to stop extra-judicial killings, the police have to do their job professionally. They cannot be judge, jury and executioner. I am not opposed to the creation of an elite crime force, other countries have the same. We need a force like this, provided they act with professionalism. We donít need another execution squad.í

Sam Isacs - photographer: `He is taking the bulls by the horn and now there is only one outcome. In retrospect, we never really had a problem of this magnitude before. Now, the president is dealing with the situation. And with appropriate training, the developing of a crime force should not be a problem. What I am talking about is adequate and appropriate guidelines with which they could operate. The ultimate outcome should be a reduction in crime, a reduction in violent crimes. No society is crime free, that is the reality.í

Ruthann Hestick - secretary at CARICOM Secretariat: `The first step is building the faith of people in the police. Citizens have lost faith in the police. But the President is moving in the right direction. I live alone and I donít feel safe when I go to sleep at night. Itís very, very, frightening. I feel that he should have definitely implemented these measures a long while ago, the situation has escalated. It is also vital that he implement a system where members of the police force can receive academic training, lots of them rely on brute force alone to execute their duties. There should also be more police patrols, more police presence, especially in the city. But I feel the President is taking the right approach so far.í

Lin-Jay Harry-Voglezon - businessman: `I think the initiatives are at least a starting point on which they can build and institute changes in some critical areas. What is also needed are incentives for policemen. They need to recognise that in this environment, crime fighting is much more demanding and much more risky. Incentives will make entrance into the force more competitive and will provide them with a better pool of recruits. Twenty million is an inadequate sum, we need to start thinking bigger, more than a billion. We have to start seeing security as critically linked with development and what needs to be recognised is that the situation is greater than sensational crime. We have become very negligent in society, white collar crimes go virtually unnoticed. Whatever the president implements will have little effect if he doesnít look at the moral principle and the ethical foundation of society. If leaders in society are questionable, they will not have the moral authority to influence others as a whole.í