Govt making efforts to access preferred weapon for crack force
Stabroek News
August 10, 2003

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The Guyana Government is making efforts to access the preferred weapon of the British police who are to train the police crack force that is to be established. Last year, President Bharrat Jagdeo announced the establishment of the force as part of the anti-crime measures being put into place to tackle the wave of violent crime that was then engulfing the country.

However, Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj, who has portfolio responsibility for the police told Stabroek News that the weapons have to be manufactured as they are not the type that manufacturers “keep on the shelf.” He said as a consequence manufacturers give priority to the larger orders for these weapons rather than the smaller amounts such as Guyana needs.

He confirmed too that his ministry was weighing the possibility of providing the training that the new squad would undergo to a larger number of policemen so as to shift the emphasis from a crack unit to the individual policeman being capable of responding to dangerous situations. Gajraj said, however, that there would still be need for a crack unit, which should number about 50 or so men.

About the strategic plan for the police force, the Minister of Home Affairs said that this was being updated, but there was a host of areas to be looked at, some of which would require legislative intervention. One area is changing the name of the force to ‘Guyana Police Service’ to bring it more in line with its motto: “We Serve and Protect.”

Another area he said that is being looked at is the powers given to the divisional commanders. He said as the situation stands the divisional officers cannot take any initiative without first clearing it with the Commissioner. He said that attention has to be given to the decentralisation of the force with more responsibility devolving on the divisional commanders for issues relating to crime, traffic and community relations in their divisions.

He said that the new arrangement would see the Commissioner of Police being the link between the administration and the force and the divisional commanders having the day-to-day responsibility for running their divisions.

The minister expressed the view that he would like the Disciplined Forces Commission, which is enquiring into the operations of the police force to be given the opportunity to consider these changes. The Scotland Yard team, which reviewed the structure and operations of the force about three years ago, recommended the allocation of more responsibility to the divisional commanders for running their divisions.

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