Home Affairs Minister lauds the contribution of CPGs in the fight against crime
…. Police Chief calls for greater cooperation between Police and local communities

Guyana Chronicle
May 5, 2003

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Minister of Home Affairs, Ronald Gajraj yesterday lauded the contributions of Community Policing Groups (CPGs) across the country for their sterling support to the Guyana Police Force (GPF) in the fight against crime.

Speaking at the Annual Community Policing Executive Conference held at the Police Officers’ Mess, Eve Leary, Georgetown, the Minister observed that in those communities where active CPGs are functioning crime is at a minimal level and in some cases is non-existent.

Alluding to the sharp rise in criminal activity of the past year, Minister Gajraj expressed the view that adjustments will have to be made in order to more effectively deal with the sudden rise in this new dispensation of crimes.

Minister Gajraj, commending members of CPGs for their sacrifice and commitment, declared: “I think it is important when one looks at the assembly of this conference that transcends ethnicity, that transcends political consideration, that transcends religious persuasion and you have chosen to be here voluntarily, and you have made much sacrifice of your time, your labour, your family life.” Continuing, he urged members of functioning CPGs to encourage others in their communities to join in contributing to the commendable fight against crime, to provide a safe and secure environment for day-to-day activities and to participate in the development of their respective communities, enhancing the quality of life generally.

Minister Gajraj called on CPGs to work in close partnership with ranks in the GPF to provide the best possible protection to all citizens, within the limited financial resources available to the security forces. He noted however, that over the last six months Government has provided funds to enhance equipment within the GPF and CPGs and improved mechanisms to counter the crime wave.

Acknowledging that the slaying of more than twenty (20) officers of the GPF is a sad reflection of the esteem in which members of the security forces are held by some citizens, the Minister urged that their deaths must not be in vain, but rather that their commitment to duty and sense of honour should be an inspiration to ours to achieve greater heights in the struggle to maintain law and order and peace. He emphasised that each and every citizen, together with his/her family, has the right to live in peace and harmony in the wider society, and that it is established government policy that no reasonable effort must be spared in achieving these objectives.

Senior ranks of the GPF are responsible for formulation of strategies and tactics and their implementation and “they are the quintessential factor in that equation,” said Minister Gajraj. He continued that from the governmental standpoint we have tried to provide the resources, within the limits of our economy and our budget with a view to equipping the GPF to meet the challenges that this relatively new dispensation of criminal activities have so suddenly brought on to the Force.

The Minister cautioned against complacency in the fight against crime, exhorting members of CPGs to be “alive, vibrant and pro-active” because criminals have been making a study of individuals and communities and then “pouncing upon their victims with forensic precision.”

Dispelling the belief that possession of firearms is a ‘panacea’ against criminal activity, Minister Gajraj stated that many victims of criminal attacks are holders of firearms who have had them stolen by the criminals perpetrating offences. In some instances, the objective of the attacks is to obtain weapons owned by the victims, he added.

The Minister appealed to the CPGs to assist in organising and mobilising the youths in constructive activities to veer them away from the negative influences of society, bearing in mind that the youths are the “citizens of tomorrow.”

Responding to a call for financial support for CPGs, Minister Gajraj gave the assurance that he would explore the possibility of providing funding with the Minister of Finance and the President. He also said he supports the idea of re-employing senior retirees of the GPF on a contractual basis to assist the supervision of CPGs.

Commissioner of Police (Ag), Floyd McDonald, addressing at the conference, said that apart from providing support to the GPF, CPGs serve to “bridge the gap” between the police and the community which is essential for the execution of effective policing. He noted that CPGs must be the “eye and ears” in the community and feed back information to the GPF in order to formulate better strategies designed to surmount the difficulties presented by the present crime wave. The Acting Commissioner called for greater cohesion among CPGs, police stations and divisions through intensified training and coordination, without which conflicts would arise thereby decreasing the effectiveness of crime fighting efforts.

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