August 24, 2002
In the light of the deaths of two security guards and attacks on others by bandits who wanted their weapons, the time has come for security services to seriously consider disarming their guards. For their lives’ sake and those of their spouses, children and other dependants, in fact for the sake of the entire security industry, guards from henceforth should be armed only with batons and whistles.
If the guard services don’t disarm them, the bandits will, whatever the cost. What should be clear to all owners and managers of guard services - and they are myriad - is that guns no longer protect their employees and by extension, their clients. Today, an armed guard stands out like a sore thumb and is at risk of losing his life and perhaps endangering those he has been hired to protect.
Consideration must be given to the fact that guards with guns no longer deter a certain type of criminal. Security guards, in fact, can only protect against petty thieves and shoplifters and surely guns are not needed to arrest these.
The new breed of bandit, whose weapon of choice is an AK 47 or M70, will first ‘take out’ the armed security guard, who carries either a revolver or a shotgun, before proceeding. Current events have shown that to these marauders, life is valueless.
Supernumerary Sergeant Michael Cumberbatch, late of Professional Guard Service and of Sophia, must have thought that he stood a good chance of doing his job well when he confronted his attacker on Wednesday night at Bhagan’s Drug Store. From all reports a single armed man entered the store. There was no sighting of any high-powered rifle; no five men barging in. Cumberbatch was not prepared for the fact that his killer was a desperate man, who perhaps, simply wanted his gun. Cumberbatch, reports said, took a stance. It was what he was required to do; it was part of his training. It cost him his life.
Chances are that had Cumberbatch been unarmed he would have shown no opposition;
chances are that had Cumberbatch been unarmed, the bandit would not have targeted his place of employ. These are questions that perhaps will never be answered.
When three bank guards were targeted a short while ago on Camp Street, shot and their weapons taken, it was felt that ‘they’ (the bandits) were building an arsenal, perhaps to make a ‘big hit’. Whether security firms took any measures then to safeguard their staff is not known. But time passed and nothing similar happened. The incidents were overtaken by armed robberies, targeting of policemen and numerous car hijackings. Then suddenly on Wednesday night the bandits struck again. Guards who carry arms and their families must be experiencing some amount of trepidation, as must the people who employ them.
The police are in the process of acquiring new equipment and protective gear.
Some of it has been handed over already. The guard services should let the police handle this new breed of bandits. A lone guard with a gun at any location is clearly an invitation to the bandits to ‘come and get it’. This is no time for egotism and machismo. Guyana cannot afford to continue to lose lives in this senseless fashion.