TSU police ask to carry arms when off duty
Following deaths of two cops in 24 hours
By Kim Lucas
January 4, 2003
The shooting deaths of two young policemen in less than 24 hours have caused the force’s Tactical Services Unit (TSU) to ask to carry firearms when off duty.
After the murder on Thursday night of Rayon Anthony Roberts, who was gunned down while on his way to purchase cigarettes in Bent Street, Georgetown, word spread that the TSU members had launched a “sit in”.
But Police Public Relations Officer, Assistant Superintendent David Ramnarine told Stabroek News yesterday that it was not true since members of the force do not take any form of strike action.
“What happened is that the deaths of these two policemen (Mark Latour on Wednesday night and Roberts) shook them up a bit,” the force’s spokesman explained.
Ramnarine further stated that while on the job, members of the force have protective gear and firearms, but when they are off-duty, the equipment and arms are lodged. Stabroek News understands that “the force cannot afford to arm every rank 24 hours.”
However, based on the current situation, Ramnarine said the force will now have to focus on meeting the demands of its members by first arming the operational ranks - those who are in the forefront of fighting crime.
Since the escalation in crime last year February after five men escaped from the Camp Street penitentiary, 14 policemen and several other law enforcement officials have been brutally slain.
On February 23, 2002, prison officer Troy Williams was killed and another officer, Roxanne Winfield, was critically wounded when Andrew Douglas, Dale Moore, Troy Dick, Mark Fraser and Shawn Brown escaped in a waiting car.
A little more than a month later, the killing of policemen started with the shooting death of Leon Fraser, a Police Superintendent, on April 1.
Then, 13 days later, on April 15, during the funeral procession of a man who was shot to death by the police, another cop, Harry Kooseram, was killed. He was on his way to work at the Vigilance Police Station, East Coast Demerara when an assailant fired six bullets into his body.
The next attack on the force came less than two weeks after Kooseram’s death when, on May 3, a party of policemen were forced to back out of the Buxton/ Friendship area on the East Coast Demerara after shots were fired.
Again, on May 11, members of the force came under fire near Buxton and two ranks were wounded. Later that same month, on May 25, four cops had to be hospitalised after two gunmen opened fire on them at the back of Coldingen, also on the East Coast Demerara. Two days later, one of the policemen - Sherwin Alleyne - died.
But that did not bring a halt to the deliberate targeting of members of the force. In a more brazen attack on May 30, two carloads of gunmen opened fire on the Alberttown Police Station, killing policeman Andy Atwell and wounding another.
Then, two weeks later, on June 14, the TSU again came under fire in Linden and police officer Rawle Thomas was shot. He remained in a critical condition until his death two days later on Father’s Day.
July 11 was another black day for the force as Detective Adrian London was shot dead, execution-style, on Joseph Pollydore Street, Lodge. He had just come off duty and was riding a motorcycle home. Eleven days later, a large band of gunmen shot dead two more members of the force - Constables Outar Kissoon, 46, and Ramphal Pardat, 56 - after laying siege to the Corentyne town of Rose Hall, Berbice.
The next cop to lose his life was Detective Constable Feroze Bashir who was gunned down outside the home of his pregnant girlfriend on August 27. Closely following his murder was that of Police Inspector Leyland October, who was shot dead outside a shop in Russell Street, Georgetown, moments after purchasing some ice-cream for his granddaughter.
The last two cops to be killed last year were traffic constable Quincy James, who was gunned down on December 3, when a large gang of gunmen ran amok on Regent Street while robbing Gobind’s Cambio; and Constable 16840 Colin Robertson, who was riddled with bullets on the `C’ Field Road in South Sophia, a short distance from his home.
Of those ranks listed above, reports suggest that October, Pardat, Ramphal, London, Thomas, Alleyne and Fraser might have been carrying a firearm at the time they were attacked.