Insidious attacks on the police Editorial
Stabroek News
June 18, 2002

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On January 30 this year, the police unveiled a monument dedicated to 24 servicemen who had died in the line of duty between 1913 and 2001. Little would the police know that just a few months later they would have to make a significant addition to the list of the names.

Over the 25 years leading up to 2001, seven policemen had been killed in the line of duty. Since April 2, five policemen have been remorselessly shot to death - one as he was cycling to work at the Vigilance Police Station. In the period 1913 to 2001, analysing fatalities, there is nothing in the history of the force that mirrors this sustained targeting of the police. In the 1969 uprising in the Rupununi, five officers were killed in a single attack. Aside from that, fatalities have been widely spread during the period, for example one in 1978, another in 1979, one 1981, the next one in 1996, one in 1997, one in 1999 and another in 2001.

Why have the police seemingly become more vulnerable? The answer is two-fold. There is a deliberate plan by political radicals to target the police because of their involvement in extra-judicial killings. This targeting has evidently been adopted by the criminals who are running amok in all parts of the country with deadly force. The second reason is that the police have never been pitted against such a large, well-armed and logistically supported force. In some attacks, 15 men - bristling with heavy weapons and loaded with ammunition - have taken part. This is no ordinary band of criminals. It is a gang operating with tactical plans, fallback positions, land and sea transport, cell phones, community support and access to intelligence on its foes. It is an entirely different challenge. The gang led by Linden London bears no comparison to the machine of death that the police now face. The police are locked in deadly combat with what is a very well-armed, guerilla-type unit.

As we have been saying repeatedly, the police need to be able to respond in like manner. So far, its coordination with the Guyana Defence Force in Operation Tourniquet has not been impressive and there needs to be an urgent re-engineering in this area.

It must be noted again that the venomous hate pamphlets which are being distributed by political radicals and others is having a deadly effect and is resulting in police officers being targeted by murderous bullets.

On April 6, during the funeral procession for Shaka Blair, a highly dangerous and inflammatory pamphlet had been distributed by persons unknown. It was followed by another which expressly called for the targeting of policemen. Headed 'Five for freedom', the leaflet was a call to those who read it to target policemen and women and their families. It vowed that no remorse would be shown. Is it then surprising that policemen have been fired at so brutally and wantonly once in the sights of the gunmen? The criminals may also be responding on a tit-for-tat basis. On the morning of Blair's funeral, Police Detective Harry Kooseram was gunned down. On the afternoon of the funeral of Compton Cambridge - who died in a shoot-out with the police and had been wanted in connection with the killing of policemen - Constable Rawle Thomas was wounded at Wismar. Thomas succumbed on Sunday night.

There can be no room in society for any type of killer. The killing of cops and this campaign afoot by the criminals is an insidious quicksand that must be stopped in its tracks. The pamphlets that have fuelled the open season on the police represent the worst in our society and law abiding and decent citizens must show revulsion at these attacks and close their communities to both the architects and the perpetrators.