Force must make changes
McDonald says in farewell speech
Stabroek News
February 17, 2004

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The police force needs some self-examination and adjustments to its policing strategy that reflect internal and external changes, former acting police commissioner Floyd McDonald said yesterday.

McDonald, at the Farewell Parade in his honour at the Police Sports Club Ground, Eve Leary, said there should be a constant operational review by the force after the last two years when it encountered its most difficult challenges. Referring to the crime wave that gripped Guyana following the February 2002 jailbreak, McDonald said the 15 months that followed were the most difficult in the history of the force.

Amid unprecedented levels of violence, 21 policemen were killed while 35 other members of the force were seriously injured.

He said many members were still traumatised, never before having to face criminals armed with AK-47s, M-70s and machine guns.

He commended the force for the perseverance that led them to victory over crime, although he cautioned that the task was still not yet over.

He pointed out that since the end of May 2003, fortunes had changed for the police as the levels of crime across the country had fallen dramatically, except for the murder rate which was still on the increase.

According to his statistics, there were 142 murders in 2002 and 206 in 2003. But for January 2004 there were only 16 murders as compared to 32 murders in January 2003. In 2003 there were 1,110 robberies where guns were used, 46% less than in 2002. Robbery with violence figures were 241 in 2002 compared with 156 the following year, while larceny from the person for the corresponding period went down from 364 to 294. For January 2003 there were 173 robberies and only 95 for that period in 2004.

In general remarks about his tenure, McDonald said he had survived although the difficulties were many and the tasks daunting. He acknowledged it was now time to move on to ensure the continuity and development of the organisation.

After his speech McDonald passed the baton to new Commissioner Winston Felix, who accepted it to the sound of loud applause.

President Bharrat Jagdeo, army Chief-of-Staff Brigadier Michael Atherly, Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj, Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon, Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Roxanne George and representatives of the Police Service Commission were among the guests.