Leads weak in slayings of three law enforcers
January 7, 2003
Investigations are continuing into the recent slayings of two policemen and a member of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), but a senior police source yesterday said the leads are weak.
CANU officer Harold Duncan was gunned down at his Agricola home on January 4 while days before, Police Constables Mark Latour and Rayon Roberts were shot dead. On Friday, a rural constable, Phillip Knights was injured in a gun attack on the East Ruimveldt Police Outpost.
However, Stabroek News understands that, between the police and army, measures are being put in place to combat the violent deaths of law-enforcement officials and innocent citizens.
“We are working continuously [but] so far, there is no significant development...We actually have suspects, but no leads into their whereabouts,” the source stated. He explained that the wanted men, for whom bulletins were recently posted, have since changed their known addresses. The source, however, said he is optimistic that the crime rate will be lowered soon.
The projection came yesterday, amid a series of security meetings called by high-level members of the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Defence Force and other officials to discuss the state of affairs.
Last year, Guyana recorded a marked increase in the number of murders, a vast increase from the 70 odd of the previous year. Of the more than 100 persons murdered last year, 14 were law enforcement officials who were deliberately targeted since the escape of five men from the Camp Street jail on February 23. And already, since the start of the New Year, two young policemen and a member of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) were brutally gunned down.
At the moment, Guyana stands third in the Caribbean in relation to the crime rate, behind Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. For the first half of 2002, May and June were the bloodiest months, with in excess of nine reported shooting deaths each month. Apart from murders, Guyana was thrown into turmoil with 92 shooting incidents, 245 robberies, 64 carjackings and 12 kidnappings, two of which ended in death.
But the deliberate killing of policemen and other law enforcement officials started on April 2, 2002 with the slaying of Police Superintendent Leon Fraser. To date, 14 policemen have been brutally gunned down, prompting some members of the police’s Tactical Services Unit (TSU) to raise concerns over protective gear and the carrying of firearms when off-duty. But according to a release from the Government Information Agency (GINA) yesterday, only high-profile ranks will carry firearms when off-duty.
The release quoted police spokesman, Assistant Superintendent David Ramnarine as saying that priority has to be given to ranks in high-profile operations, that is, the unit that responds to scenes of violent criminal activities (the frontline ranks).
“He disclosed that special emphasis is being placed for those ranks to carry firearms home. However, he noted that this would be viewed by a case-by-case basis, taking into account ranks living in hostile areas and those who may have received messages or threats to such an extent that they are fearful for their lives while being off-duty,” the GINA release stated.