More Police patrols to be deployed

Guyana Chronicle
November 7, 2002

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THE Guyana Police Force would be moving into their Christmas routine from next week, which would see even greater Police presence in shopping areas and more mobile patrols along the busy thoroughfares, Head of the Presidential Secretariat and Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Roger Luncheon announced yesterday.

He said that Home Affairs Minister, Mr. Ronald Gajraj informed Cabinet at its weekly meeting on Tuesday that from November 15 the Police Force would "move into their Christmas routine, a routine which would see even greater Police presence in shopping areas and more mobile patrols along the busy thoroughfares".

He said at his regular post-Cabinet news conference that this Christmas routine would continue into the New Year.

Luncheon also admitted that the administration has recognised, and is very concerned, that "there are large amounts of weapons in the hands of individuals and parties virtually without detection by the civilian law enforcement agencies".

He said the Police and the intelligence services are "hard-pressed to try to remain on top of that situation and provide some relief to the psyche of the nation that has been constantly abused by these criminal occurrences".

"The administration's concerns have indeed been heightened but not specifically in the context of the most recent occurrences but cumulatively, as one comes to a greater and greater understanding of what actually law enforcement agencies are actively and actually confronted with," he said.

He referred to the large weapons arsenal which was found by the Police last Monday at `safe' houses in the city used by criminals and the continuation of the senseless and indiscriminate killings.

He said these have "certainly generated the appropriate level of concern in the civilian law enforcement agencies".

The Ministry of Home Affairs, the Office of the President and the Intelligence committees have all been maximally mobilised to generate the maximum possible response to what is playing out in the streets of Georgetown, he told reporters.

Officials have indicated that the narcotics trade and disputes among drugs cartels operating in Guyana are among the main contributing factors influencing the current spate of high-profile crimes, criminal activities and killings plaguing the country.

Luncheon last week said the current crime wave has at least three major influences or contributing factors - the role of politicians in Opposition in creating and contributing to this volatile atmosphere; the drugs/narcotics trade and disputes within the cartels operating in Guyana; and at the same time, ordinary criminals carrying out their criminal activities in various parts of the country with seeming impunity.

This linkage between the drugs trade and the escalation of crime in the region was also discussed at the Seventh Meeting of the Caribbean Community Council of Human and Social Development (COHSOD) which was held at Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel, Georgetown, about two weeks ago.

COHSOD VII, in an objective analysis of the crime situation within the region, has determined that the escalation of crime being witnessed is highly related to drugs and the drugs trade.

CARICOM Secretary General, Dr. Edwin Carrington, noted that crime and the drugs culture are major problems which the Caribbean Community must overcome.

"To continue on the present path, would all but destroy the region's hope for social and economic development," he reiterated.

Using Guyana, the base of the CARICOM Secretariat as an example, Assistant Secretary General, Dr. Edward Greene commented: "I think that if you objectively look at what's happening in Guyana, for example, and what seems to be the pattern, according to this report - it is that a lot of the violent, vicious crimes - crimes that are really cause for fear in society - (a lot of it) is linked to drugs."

Luncheon yesterday also noted that investigations were ongoing to ascertain whether the Police were involved in last week Monday's incidents on the East Coast road, where among other things, wanted criminal Mark Fraser was gunned down execution style.

The Police have said that they were not involved in the death of Fraser, one of the five men who escaped from the Georgetown Prison on February 23 this year, but that from all indications, he was killed by a gang of armed men in a white car.

Luncheon yesterday indicated that at their recent Central Intelligence Committee meeting, the Police and the Army "did not contradict each other" and the "position was stated that the Police were not involved in the activities on the Railway Embankment on that Monday morning".

He admitted that based on allegations and reports, it could be established that the position taken by the Army and the Police is not consistent with what was appearing in some media and reportedly from eyewitnesses.

"You are certainly aware that that is not a novel situation. There have been disputes before and I am certain there will be disputes in the future.

"All of these matters, however, are being investigated and if I may say, the proof of the pudding is still in the eating and the evidence for or against participation by the Police in that event on the embankment road may very well await the results of the investigation - ballistic testing, questioning of the eyewitnesses - and I am certain that considerable efforts, both by the Police as well as the investigative journalists, will bring greater clarity to this matter."

Luncheon was asked why the traditional Deepavali motorcade in Georgetown and on the East Coast Demerara to mark the Hindu festival of lights was cancelled Sunday after some 30 uninterrupted years.

"It perhaps accords with what seems to be some popular sentiments that for the avoidance of unforeseen or untoward incidents, the organisers had felt it best not to carry out or not to conduct the activity," he said.

There is "a strong feeling out there and it's one that has some merit, that Indians in Guyana have been the preferential targets of violent and armed criminals and were one to embrace that view and at the same time to be responsible for bringing out large numbers of Indians to an activity of this size and the type and quantity of responses normally associated, it perhaps is not unreasonable for some caution to be have been exercised by the organisers, thus the cancellation", he said.

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