Security Forces get $85M for better equipment
by Mark Ramotar
December 22, 2003
GOVERNMENT has, for this year, provided some G$85M to the Security Forces to purchase single and double cab pick-ups, prison vans, armoured cars, patrol cars, motorcycles, Fibreglass boats with engines and ballahoos.
Home Affairs Minister, Mr. Ronald Gajraj, said this increase to the motorized units of the Force has already made a significant difference in road traffic control, patrol of high crime areas, response to crime calls, emergencies and crime prevention generally.
Speaking at an end-of-year news conference last Friday, Gajraj said this allocation was in order to improve the mobility of the Force on land and also in the rivers.
He said, too, that the Government, having considered the type of weaponry used by the criminal community against members of the Force and against defenseless citizens, was constrained to provide the Force with appropriate equipment to meet the challenge with which it is faced. For this purpose, $70M was provided to purchase such equipment and good quality body armour, including bulletproof vests in which ranks now feel more secure during armed engagements with the bandits.
He said provision was made for equipment to enhance the capacity of the Traffic Division with the objective of improving road safety. These include crash barriers, radar guns, crash helmets, breathalysers, and road marking supplies.
"The traffic situation is still of great concern to me since there are fatalities almost weekly (and) I feel strongly that more stringent penalties for the guilty should follow an intensive education drive amongst road users," Gajraj asserted.
He said other divisions for which equipment was provided were Communication, Mounted Branch and Forensic.
In terms of police stations and buildings, Gajraj said the physical facilities used by the ranks in the execution of their duties, for recreation, and as living accommodation, significantly influence their performance on the job and the way the public see and relate to the Force as an organization.
"To improve the conditions under which ranks live and work, $75M was provided to carry out substantial renovation and repairs of police stations and buildings. He said a new police station is under construction at Bartica and should be completed by the end of January 2004, while construction of a police station at Sophia will commence shortly.
With regards to the Guyana Prison Service, Minister Gajraj said there was no major incident of escape through the integrity of Regulations governing officers as well as inmates and what is allowed in prison is still under scrutiny.
He said construction of the Mazaruni Brick Prison has been completed and work is in progress on the Mazaruni Solitary Block and Officers Quarters and the Timehri Prison.
He said, too, that land has been purchased from the Lusignan Golf Club, East Coast Demerara to expand the Lusignan facility. "Overcrowding is no longer an issue and efforts are being made to acquire the full-time service of a Registered Medical Practitioner.
In terms of the Guyana Fire Service (GFS), Gajraj said the GFS has performed reasonably well despite the many challenges with which it is faced.
He noted that the Anna Regina Fire Station has been completed and citizens in that county can now live their lives with the comforting assurance that help is available in the case of an outbreak of fire. The station was officially opened on October 30, 2003 with a full complement of staff and adequate mobile equipment.
The Home Affairs Minister also noted that recently, the GFS assumed responsibility of Linmine Fire Station and for fire protection of the Linden/Wisroc area. The feasibility study of establishing a modern fire station at that location is being considered, he disclosed.
At the national level, he said the Fire Service has been focusing on Fire Prevention and to that end has intensified its fire inspection and lectures on fire prevention in the populated areas of the country.
According to him, it is hoped that this approach will result in a reduction in loss of lives and destruction of property caused by fire.
He also noted that land transport, protective gear for fire fighters and other equipment to the tune of $13M were provided for in this year's Budget. Some items have been ordered from overseas suppliers and should arrive in Guyana shortly.
"The Guyana Police Force, with the assistance of the Military where necessary, is determined to thwart any attempt to disrupt the social order of our society - Law and Order must prevail!" Gajraj declared.
He, however, pointed out that in order to efficiently and effectively carry out its various functions, the Force must perpetually seek to improve its administrative and operational capacities. To this end, he said it must train and retrain its operatives at all levels of the organization to effectively respond to and successfully confront the changing demands and challenges of the profession.
For this year, training in a wide range of subjects has been conducted locally benefiting some 500 participants from 30 courses and 12 seminars.
According to him, members of the Police Force were exposed to training fashioned to improve their individual abilities to perform at particular levels; to impart new skills or to prepare them to function at the higher levels. The training in some instances focused on recent legislative remedies for certain social problems and on the role of the police officer in facilitating redresses or protection under the Constitution such as the many human rights issues or under the law such as the Domestic Violence Act.
To further enhance the capacity of the Force, several of its members at the administrative and supervisory levels, were exposed to specialist training in the Caribbean and North America. He said such training included Intelligence Gathering and Analysis, International Crime and Global Co-operation, Aviation Security, Narcotic Investigation, Financial Investigation, Terrorism and other disciplines important to crime prevention, detection and prosecution.
He said, too, that an Anti-Kidnapping Unit is now functioning but the related task is to convince the relatives of victims how to react when and if the worst happens.