Crime lab gets forensic equipment
Call the police with tips - Gajraj urges citizens By Edlyn Benfield
Stabroek News
October 2, 2002

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Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj yesterday urged citizens to call the police whenever they see any suspicious activity.

He was speaking at the handing over ceremony of US$50,000 worth of forensic equipment for the police crime laboratory. Referring to Monday night’s incident at Johnny `P’, the minister noted that it was not until after the attack that someone mentioned having observed a suspicious car parked a short distance away earlier in the evening. He added that this has been the case in numerous other incidents

He said most citizens do not use the telephone lines made available for the purpose of reporting potentially valuable information to the police.

But he conceded that this may be the direct result of a lack of confidence by members of the public in the “confidentiality” provided by the law enforcement authorities when such information is given.

Further, the pattern of criminal activity in recent times has somewhat handicapped police ranks in dealing with specific situations. Gajraj gave the example of a situation on Monday night where police were hindered from shooting at a group of suspicious persons travelling in a car they were tailing for fear of injuring innocent citizens.

“These are difficult situations to plan for... however the force has Quick Reaction units and the public can depend on them.” He emphasised the need for the public to remain “security conscious and alert” and appealed for citizens to make an effort to contact the police immediately when anything or anyone appearing to be “questionable” is noticed.

Acting Commissioner of Police Floyd McDonald noted that while calls have been made by the public some of these were malicious rather than helpful. He said mechanisms were being put in place to ensure better facilities for successfully garnering appropriate information.

Gajraj also said he was satisfied with the existing collaboration between the army and the GPF and said there were constant reviews and modifications relative to the operations of the two bodies.

Asked about the $200 million allocated by government to crime prevention, Gajraj responded that the money was used to purchase vehicles for the GPF ranks; and that Deputy Commissioner Winston Felix and another rank were sent overseas to source additional equipment needed to fight crime but the manufacturers have requested time to produce the items.

The equipment handed over to the police yesterday includes two gas chromatographs, two spectrometers and Pentium computers.

Former GPF member, Lloyd Houston explained that the equipment is used to carry out forensic analysis, the results of which are then processed through the computers.

Houston, who received his education at St. Stanislaus College and Queen’s College, before pursuing a career in the GPF and later migrating, described the capacity of the equipment as “virtually limitless.”

According to Houston, the acquisition of the equipment for the local Crime Lab came after two years of negotiations and McDonald commented that the process gained momentum over the past seven or eight months. Houston conducted a two-week training exercise for four crime lab technicians in the “use, maintenance and care” of the instruments.