PNCR pledges full support for police fight against crime
-in meeting with Top Cop

Stabroek News
January 16, 2003

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The PNCR yesterday expressed its full support for the police force in the fight against crime during a meeting with the Top Cop and a number of issues including the slaying of law enforcers by criminals and Buxton/police relations were ventilated.

The PNCR delegation, in the meeting with Acting Police Commissioner Floyd McDonald at police headquarters Eve Leary, also raised the need for a review of the current strategies being used to address the security situation and the complaints by some stallholders at Buxton about damage to their premises and other property when the Police and Army carried out a joint operation in the lower East Coast Demerara village on January 8. The exercise was the beginning of Operation Saline Solution II by the security forces.

PNCR chairman and interim leader, attorney-at-law Robert Corbin MP, who led the team, told Stabroek News that the meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere. McDonald concurred with this description of the meeting when he too spoke with Stabroek News yesterday.

The meeting was held at Corbin's request as a result of his assessment of the situation made after his visit to Buxton on Janaury 9 where he spoke with a cross-section of residents, including village elders, young people and stallholders who complained about the behaviour of the security forces during the conduct of the exercise.

In a letter to the Commissioner requesting the meeting, Corbin expressed the view that "the security forces have done much to alienate the community and create a hostile environment which would require skilful and professional handling if things are to return to normal".

A release from the Police after the 80-minute meeting said that Corbin and colleagues expressed their "full support for the Police Force in the fight against crime and that their efforts to realise the meeting was an indication of the interest to help in whatever way they can."

Corbin said that the PNCR raised the issues in the context of its concern about the security situation and the need for a national and coordinated approach to address it.

About the complaints from the stallholders, McDonald confirmed the willingness of the Police to consider these and asked for the assistance of the PNCR in obtaining statements from those affected. Corbin confirmed that the delegation had undertaken to collect the statements. However, he stressed that the Police had given no firm commitment about the payment of compensation.

Corbin told Stabroek News that the focus of the meeting was the general security situation and the need for the Police to review its strategies for addressing the situation so that this could be done in a conducive environment as well as the need for it to improve its community relations.

He expressed the view that the police's tactics had aggravated the relations between the force and community and were of no benefit either to itself or the communities where they are being employed. Corbin added that he had stressed the importance of the force calling on all stakeholders, the government included, to assist in addressing the situation.

The release from the police about the meeting said that "(1) the slaying of members of the force by criminals, (2) the operational performance of the members of the force and (3) strategies to foster better police community relations and respect for (the) human rights and dignities of citizens and law enforcers alike were some of the issues discussed".

It said that McDonald had acknowledged "the paramount need to develop and sustain better working relationships with all communities" and alluded "to the fact that the capture of those wanted fugitives is a major concern since some of the killers of Policemen were known".

The release said that the meeting ended with both the Commissioner and Corbin "expressing the hope that the current adverse crime situation will be reversed quickly to the betterment of the society at large".

With Corbin at the meeting were Clarissa Riehl MP, Deborah Backer MP, and Basil Williams, attorneys-at-law and Artie Ricknauth. With the Commissioner were Deputy Commissioner Winston Felix, Assistant Commissioner, Henry Greene, Detective Senior Superintendent Philbert Adams and Assistant Superintendent, David Ramnarine. (Patrick Denny)

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