Calming another crime wave Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
March 27, 2004

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THE incidents of robberies that are once again taking place especially on the East Coast of Demerara have rekindled debate on what may be responsible for the resurgence and what constitutes the reduction of crime to "tolerable levels."

Life has been returning to normal since the Joint Services operations successfully cordoned off and searched criminal nests in Buxton and apprehended a number of suspects.

We were among those who wrote that Buxton was no longer under siege, that an uneasy sense of clam had been returning to villages neighboring Buxton, and that passing through Buxton was the way it used to be, even though, understandably, some commuters were still a bit apprehensive.

All the same, we had cautioned that it would be na´ve for anyone to think that our law enforcement agencies could get rid of crime altogether, any more than the Joint Services' success in Buxton should lull any one of us into a sense of complacency.

And Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj did warn us in June that those who survived the Buxton operations would slip away to other areas, in some instances back to their hometowns, and were more likely than not to continue in their criminal ways after a while.

That warning still holds.

In fact, as we've seen and heard over the past month or two, there has been an agonizing increase in the spate of armed robberies on the Guyana coastland, with the East Coast of Demerara bearing the brunt of the incidences of gun crime.

It's good that the police are once again patrolling the East Coast more frequently. And we're encouraged by calls on the police by both the Opposition PNCR and by the ruling PNC to step up their fight against the criminals and to work more closely with community policing groups in the areas where violent crime seems to be more prevalent.

The police also probably do not need to be reminded that one of the prison escapees is still on the loose and that gang members not caught in the police-army operation may be regrouping to resume their perpetration of crime in the country. The police, we know, are also aware that lots of criminal-minded persons, fed with the notion that poverty breeds crime, operate on their own.

As such, law enforcement and their partners, the Community Policing Groups, should never waiver in their fight against crime.

While some fortunately dwell in quiet, stable neighborhoods, other communities are facing a growing crime threat. Others, still, may have gone through or may be experiencing a rash of break-ins and other criminal activities not yet reported.

Yes, we have to reiterate that crime fighting is everybody's business.

In communities where deprivation is acute, therefore, business people can and should help to manage programmes and raise funds; civic activists can and should collaborate with local agencies to meet the needs of villagers such as recreation, vocational education for early school leavers, and even self-help housing for low-income families.

Many things help cause crime, violence, and drug abuse problems in a community. Case studies in the U.S. identify graffiti, vandalism, loitering and littering as warning signs that crime and violence may be present or may be reaching a neighborhood soon.

Those of us who are for law and order and peace and security can win the war on crime by remaining ever vigilant and supporting the police and community groups dedicated to keeping Guyana safe for its citizenry.