`Be aggressive in security corridor’ -- Rohee urges cops By Chamanlall Naipaul
Guyana Chronicle
January 30, 2007

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HOME Affairs Minister Clement Rohee yesterday said the Police must adopt an “aggressive posture” towards security along the East Bank Demerara corridor which is fast growing in importance as a main national artery.

His call came at the formal opening of a modern police station at Grove to serve the Grove/Diamond communities and environs on the East Bank Demerara.

The minister emphasised the importance of the new station in the context of the East Bank Demerara assuming significantly increased importance as a security corridor in the face of intensified economic activities, the location for essential installations, the national cricket stadium and the pathway to and from the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri.

Without providing figures, he hinted that in this year’s national budget, there would be increased allocations for the security sector.

He noted that some $4.5 billion was allocated last year and the trend over recent years has been one of increasing spending for security as the government is committed to curbing crime.

However, Mr. Rohee stressed that with only four police stations on the East Bank Demerara and a growing population in the Grove/Diamond communities, which now is estimated at 15,000, the police of necessity have to be buttressed by the existing 18 Community Policing Groups (CPGs) and the neighbourhood police in the division.

He explained that the latter groups are not in competition with the Guyana Police Force (GPF), but rather are complementary to it, and appealed to ranks at the Grove Police Station to set an example for those at other locations to emulate.

But he bemoaned the absence of Station Management Committees, noting that the call for the establishment of such bodies has not been successful, and expressed the hope that his renewed call will not fall on “deaf ears”, as there is a dire need for these committees to ensure police stations function effectively and efficiently in the discharge of their responsibilities to communities.

The minister signalled his intention to deal with this issue in an in-depth manner during the upcoming annual Police Officers Conference.

Rohee implored the ranks not only to provide service and protection but to impose a new sense of law and order in the community, exhorting them to be friendly but to deal firmly and “unflinchingly” with those who break the law.

He assured that the government is committed to providing increased resources to the law enforcement agencies to maintain peace and fight crime, despite the financial constraints it faces, because economic growth will not happen if people do not feel safe.

Noting the increased number of road accidents and fatalities, Rohee declared that “drastic laws” will soon be tabled in the National Assembly to deal with violators of traffic laws and regulations.

He also disclosed that from a recent visit to eight police stations in Division ‘B’ (East Berbice), he found the conditions under which members of the GPF have to work are atrocious and conceded that there are limits to modesty with respect to conditions that one can endure.

While the government is not in a financial position to increase remuneration for the law enforcement agencies, Rohee observed that at least it should improve working conditions of the GPF.

To this end, he announced that under the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) funded Citizens Security Programme (CSP) the 72 police stations and 26 outposts across the country will be remodelled and upgraded to vastly improve working conditions and make them visitor friendly.

He also bemoaned the current laborious record keeping system of the GPF, admitting that this aspect needs “urgent catching up with modern methods of record keeping”, and informed the gathering that under the CSP this area of work will also be enhanced.

Police Commissioner Henry Greene admonished ranks to let the new station be a “reflection of a new approach in thinking, dedication and commitment.”

He exhorted them to recognise and understand the peculiarities of the community and to adjust policing methods accordingly.

The Commissioner stressed that the station must not only be a nice building but must serve the community and ranks must discharge their duties in an impartial manner, reflecting a departure from malpractices of the past.

He chided ranks against the backdrop of neglect of duty being the highest ranked of complaints against members of the GPF, emphasising that there must be a departure from non-response to citizens’ requests and sending members of the public from one station to another, claiming that it is not under their jurisdiction.

The Commissioner made it categorically clear that any citizen could lodge a complaint at any station and it is the duty of the ranks at that station to carry out the requisite investigations and then take the initiative to have the matter transferred to the relevant jurisdiction.

He said while mistakes will be made, it becomes a problem when these outnumber correct actions.

Greene assured that the GPF will not back down in the fight against crime but appealed for the cooperation from the community because the police cannot do it alone.

The top cop also expressed gratitude to the government for responding to the great need for such a facility, adding that its mere presence will impact positively on a developing community, and it is a reflection of the force’s larger concept of service and protection.

Assistant Superintendent Ravendradatt Budhram said the construction of the $30M spanking new two-flat edifice began in September 2005 and was completed September last year.

The station boasts rooms for a Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Traffic Department, Radio Communication Department, Identification Parade, storing arms and ammunition, five lockups and for victims of domestic violence.