We can turn sorrow into joy
Guyana Chronicle
May 24, 2003

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Yesterdayís funeral of Army lance corporal Shemton Dodson was another grim reminder of the extent to which violent crimes have torn into the nationís social fabric.

Weíve come to understand, appreciate and embrace democracy as an ideology whose institution guarantees, in law at least, the lofty pursuits of life, liberty and happiness.

Nowhere in our constitution is there any mention of our rights and freedoms being guaranteed only on our compatriots enjoying the fruits of our labour.

So itís pathetic hearing people attribute the perpetration of violent crimes on others to the perpetrator or perpetrators having been deprived of the necessities of life, and/or to the government having failed to provide the conditions necessary for the perpetrator or perpetrators to trod a non-crime path.

Perception means a lot, if it isnít everything. Hence, our disappointment when we hear politicians, apparently more concerned about festering partisan interests and gaining political mileage than about promoting public safety, fretting over the ďmannerĒ in which law enforcement officers confront armed, dangerous, even heartless criminals!

Whether we like it or not, the police and the army are key players in the fight against crime. They are the first people we generally look to for help in preventing crime. It's logical; preventing crime is their primary job.

Yet, increasingly, those who should be helping people and neighbourhoods solve problems that interfere with security and well-being are the prime opponents of law and order, to lawful authority, and to respect for the rights and freedoms of others.

The people of Buxton must be commended for cooperating with the law enforcement officers putting their lives on the line to rid their village of the scourge of crime and of it being used as a safe haven for the commissioning of violent crimes.

In spite of the rhetoric of detractors, who are attempting to place a wedge between the Army and the Government, between the Police and the Army, and between the Disciplined Services and the public, Buxtonians are demonstrating their preference for peace and law and order.

We have said more than once that law enforcement is a task not only for security personnel. Itís a task also for members of the public.

We can help by getting together and working with the police, and the army wherever necessary, to reduce street violence, house invasions, muggings, drug dealing, shootings, kidnappings, car-jackings and other crimes in our communities.

Experts also recommend the following:

Establish an organized and effective system (such as Interchange groups) for communication on diversity issues.

∑ Establish a community leadership academy to help identify roadblocks that divide people culturally, socially and economically and to prepare candidates for positions in government and schools.

∑ Include "Teaching Tolerance" materials in the school curriculum, along with information on conflict resolution, and create multiracial and cross-cultural events in schools, churches and businesses to promote mutual respect and understanding.

Murders, of law enforcement officers and civilian victims of crime, have tainted the Guyanese landscape. Taking our streets and communities back from criminals requires concerted and sustained public involvement as much as it does the grit of law enforcement.

So letís do whatís necessary to turn sorrow into joy.

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