Police on top of crime - Gajraj
-219 serious crime suspects held since June By Samantha Alleyne
Stabroek News
February 18, 2003

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Minister of Home Affairs, Ronald Gajraj, yesterday said the police were on top of the crime situation and his ministry was working to improve the force’s crime fighting capabilities.

Over the past year the country has been in the grip of a ferocious crime wave with almost 200 people losing their lives including 19 law enforcement officers. For much of this time the police have appeared out-gunned and at times hapless.

Minister Gajraj, speaking at a press conference in the GTV 11 studios, observed that February 23, the day of last year’s prison escape was approaching. He said that the two remaining escapees, Shawn Brown and Troy Dick were still in Guyana and that the force had a “general idea” as to where they were and were working on capturing them.

In the period since the jail-break, there have been numerous attacks by gangs from Buxton/Friendship on neighbouring villages especially Annandale and Vigilance. Several residents have fled these villages because of the attacks the latest being from the village of Vigilance. On Friday, Vigilance residents appealed through this newspaper for the authorities to give them land elsewhere so that they could relocate. Gajraj said he would be visiting the area.

The minister said the crime situation was multi-faceted but the force was having “a degree of success”. He disclosed that since the beginning of the year the police had arrested 219 suspects charged with various serious offences ranging from murder, robbery under arms and rape.

Additionally, they had seized 15 illegal firearms and a large quantity of ammunition, compared to five weapons for the same period last year. Fourteen bandits have been killed during armed confrontations with the police for this year, he added.

The force would continue to do what they have been doing to combat the crime situation with targeted patrols, snap roadblocks and search operations based on the intelligence available.

“The police force will continue to carry out its constitutional responsibility to protect and serve the citizens of this country..” Gajraj said.

According to the minister the force was working towards the implementation of a number of measures to enhance its performance which included the formation of an air wing support section to enhance its crime prevention capacity.

It also plans to acquire armoured vehicles and additional land and water craft adaptable to a wide range of operational circumstances.

Gajraj said recently ordered protective equipment was now in use by the ranks and a number of detachable face shields were also in the country.

Also on the agenda was the strengthening of the intelligence unit of the force through training on strategies, tactics and leadership with the assistance of local and overseas experts.

Gajraj referred to the establishment of a specialised training centre where police officers and other law enforcement officers would be exposed on a continuous basis to modern anti-crime tactics and methods.

A plot of land for the new training centre has been identified and moves to acquire it are ongoing. Plans are being examined to have several training ranges with the British government rendering assistance in this area.

Gajraj said he would continue to review and amend legislation as needed to help the fight against crime while also enhancing the police welfare package for the relatives of officers slain in the line of duty. Government has made available $20M which has been placed in a fund controlled by the police force for the dependents of policemen and women killed.

Special attention will be paid to the Lethem to Mabura area, to ensure that police ranks are properly equipped in light of the new road networks that have been established.

Four new Land Rovers have been dispatched to the hinterland while plans are afoot to construct two new police stations in Lethem and Sophia along with the reconstruction of the Bartica, Wisroc and Rose Hall police stations.

The countrywide recruitment drive of the force was continuing and while it has not reached the level expected, Gajraj said there had been an improvement.

On other matters Garaj said the computer seized from three persons held with arms at Good Hope, was in police custody but was not being used by them.

He said the computer, which reportedly can locate cell phone users had certain passwords and these were unavailable.

Three persons, including a policeman, Sean Belfield, were charged in connection with the arms find. Gajraj said Belfield had been interdicted from the force until the completion of the court matter.

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