New initiatives on crime welcomed Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
December 22, 2003

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The Joint Services operations in Buxton a few months back heralded a new era of crime fighting in the country that most Guyanese welcomed.

Most Guyanese breathed a sigh of relief when the cordon-and-search initiative yielded the apprehension of some crime suspects, the death of some others who opted to engage in armed confrontation rather than surrender, and the "recapturing" of crime-wary Buxton from the criminals who had made the East Coast Demerara village their haven.

Regrettably, those who relished the commissioning of violent crimes - murders/executions, drive-by shootings, house-invasion and business premise robberies, on-the-road stick-ups, kidnappings, carjackings, rapes and the beating up of victims - described the criminals as "freedom fighters" and sought to demonize the police in a bid to win public support for the criminals instead of the police whose duty it is to present and suppress crime and maintain law and order.

Others belonging to that weird minority regard crime fighting as a misguided approach away from what they believe should be an offensive on the country's socioeconomic woes.

Most of these violent crimes are relatively new to Guyana. And most of us would rather forget that these crimes have become part of the Guyanese landscape.

But history, no matter how distasteful, cannot be washed away.

Our sense of Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj bringing back memories of that unfortunate era in Guyana's history at his news conference last week is his duty not only to report to the stewardship of his ministry and the country's security forces over the past year, but also to jolt us out of a sense of denial.

Coming amid the preoccupation of Guyanese with preparations for another bright Christmas, the statistics on crime that Minister Gajraj disclosed also echoed President Bharrat Jagdeo's appeal to Guyanese not to become complacent because our courageous, hard-working security forces temporarily defeated some of the country's most notorious criminals.

We say "temporarily" because crime fighting isn't over by a long shot.

We've heard of criminals engaging in "opportunity" crimes, vulturing on people who apparently are far too preoccupied with preparations for Christmas to be security conscious and alert.

One distressing instance of this devastating security lapse was the heist of $5 million to $6 million in cash and jewelry from four stalls in the Corriverton Market early Thursday morning.

It was inconceivable that the managements of those two jewelries would dare leave almost all their jewels in the showcases of their stalls before closing for the day.

That's not to say that other crimes aren't being committed.

The recent robbery of two rice vendors in Buxton as well as fatal shootings in other parts of the country must make clear that vigilance has to be continuous.

We welcomed the Army's commitment back in July/August to staying the anti-crime course, undaunted by reports that the police and army were at odds over the scheduling of their collaboration in crime fighting.

We welcome new initiatives by the two forces to collaborate once again, or rather to intensify their joint crime fighting efforts.

Muggings and trunkings usually increase during the Christmas holidays.

We've noted the increase in the presence of beat duty police on the streets of busy Georgetown and feel confident that the police, with or without the partnership of the army, will manage to keep crime at its lowest ebb this Christmas.

Of course, as we've always said, crime fighting is the responsibility of the country's civilian population as well.

Hence, our plea with Guyanese to look out for each other and to get involved in anti-crime programmes in their communities.

Getting together to fight crime, violence, and drugs can help create communities where children can be children and where people once isolated by crime and fear can enjoy being a part of thriving neighbourhoods and this beautiful land that is our home.