Another troubling episode Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
August 17, 2002

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THE movie-style shootout in the early hours of yesterday morning at East Ruimveldt, Georgetown, where powerfully armed bandits attacked another Police patrol, shows yet again that the criminal forces are out to demoralise the security forces and sow seeds of disarray and anarchy.

Fortunately, on this occasion there was no Police fatality or serious injuries.

However, the terror and fear generated is obvious bearing in mind that in the last six months eight members of the Guyana Police Force have been brutally killed at the hands of the bandits, and that is in addition to the number of citizens and private security guards killed or wounded.

The number of Policemen killed in the last six months is more than the total number killed while on duty in the last 25 years, according to Police statistics.

The East Ruimveldt incident demonstrated the overwhelming superiority in firepower by the bandits, with reports saying they totally outgunned the Police during the daring shootout.

The crime spree currently being experienced in this country is not a simple, straight forward situation.

It is complex and intricate with interconnected factors encompassing drugs dealings, arms smuggling and political intrigues.

And from the manner in which the recent crimes have been executed it is logical and evident that the masterminds and executors of these crimes are intelligent, well versed in military type combat, experts in weapons and explosives and, very importantly, seem determined and dedicated to the task of carrying out their objectives.

And while it is true that a solution to the crime is not the easiest of things to find, what is worrying to the average Guyanese is the apparent lack of urgency on the part of the authorities to implement decisive anti-crime measures.

Six months after the dramatic upsurge of violent criminal activities following the daring February 23 escape from the Georgetown Prison of five dangerous criminals, the security forces should have been provided with enough safety gear, the firepower and other equipment to deal with the dangerous forces arrayed against them.

This is an issue that should have triggered much quicker reaction than has been apparent and the authorities have to move with urgency now to address these growing concerns.

While it may be correctly argued that there is a crime wave throughout the Caribbean, at the same time it must be appreciated that in many of those countries there was a gradual and incremental increase in violent crimes.

In Guyana, it has been a dramatic jump in six months of unprecedented types of crime.

And with a population as small as ours the effects are magnified.

The impact has become even greater since the security forces now have to battle forces of the kind they had not encountered before over such a prolonged period.

It is also pertinent to point out when making comparisons to what is happening in other countries in the Caribbean, that the peoples there have over the years have had much to cheer about - enjoying a democratic tradition since independence and thriving economies, unlike Guyanese who are continuing to endure threats to the consolidation of democracy and a host of attendant difficulties.

Having thrown off the yolk of 28 years of fraudulent elections, economic hardship and food shortages and prolonged blackouts, there was great hope when this country enjoyed a brief period of peace and calm between 1992-1997.

But ever since then it has been post-election violence, violent protests and to crown it all now, a ruthless and murderous crime rampage.

This rampage has to be brought to an end and those in the forefront of the fight, in the first instance, have to be well equipped to carry the fight to the bandits.