Top Cop reports: Crime down
-- President notes growing sense of security By Mark Ramotar
Guyana Chronicle
February 9, 2007

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ACTING Police Commissioner Henry Greene yesterday reported that crime dropped by some seven per cent last year, and said law enforcement agencies are committed to ensuring there is a further reduction this year.

He noted that this success, which came on the heels of the spiralling crime wave that plagued Guyana during the period 2002 to 2005 and which continued last year, was due to partnership and professionalism between the Police Force and the Army, along with public support in the provision of confidential and useful information.

“Last year was a year of serious challenges but I think we rose to the challenge because of two significant words – partnership and professionalism,” he said at the opening of the annual three-day Police Officers’ Conference at Eve Leary, Georgetown yesterday.

“We worked hand in hand with the Joint Services to ensure that we could maintain law and order in this land, against all the negative views, both locally and abroad,” he said, adding that every effort must be made to maintain that partnership and to ensure that it continues to be done in a professional manner.

President Bharrat Jagdeo, in his feature address at the conference, lauded the Joint Services for what he described as a “job well done” over the past several months with regards to the maintenance of law and order and battling the crime and drug scourge that was plaguing and eating away at the very fabric of the Guyanese society. .

“I speak to you here with a sense of optimism that over the past several months, because of the efforts of the police and the army, there is a growing sense of security in our nation,” the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces told those gathered at the conference.

On this note, the President commended both Greene and Chief-of-Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Brigadier General Edward Collins (who was seated in the audience) for jobs well done in leading their respective organizations, and in their collaborative Joint Services efforts at battling lawlessness and crime in the country and maintaining peace and stability.

“The nation owes the Joint Services a debt of gratitude for the work that they did, especially around the elections time.”

“We entered into the elections period with a sense of misgivings and fear in many quarters that the cycle of violence around elections - that this country has grown accustomed to - would once again take place…”

He said this was because of many reasons, “but most importantly for me, it was the preparation done by the Joint Services and their presence in the streets which was a significant deterrent to anyone who may have had in their minds, the breaking of the laws of our country.”

Mr. Jagdeo noted that many times people speak about the recent elections, but do not give true recognition of the role the Joint Services played in successfully maintaining law and order and peace.

“We also broke tradition and had the army on the streets on elections day…and everyone was pleased with the performance of the Joint Services to take us through that period in the manner they did.”

“I am very pleased with your hard work. I have seen a dramatic change in the way the police have been operating. I see more energy within the Police Force and I want all of you to be infected with that enthusiasm,” the President lauded.

“We must take the same enthusiasm and the zeal for reforms back into the communities and the areas that you manage as we create a more modern and relevant Police Force.”

Mr. Jagdeo noted that there was some unease in many quarters on hearing that reforms will be taking place in the Police Force with persons wondering and speculating as to what roles they will be playing in those reforms.

He, however, assured that these reforms will be led by indigenous authorities (consultants) and the leadership of the Police Force.

He also warned that there will be many consultants coming here to help but not all will be useful since some of them will be useless.

“I am very pleased with the pace of the reforms but there is much, much, more work that still needs to be done if we are going to achieve the desired results”, he said.

Greene said, “Last year we reduced crime by seven per cent and I don’t want to tell you the figures right now but for this year I want to feel that crime is significantly down…but I don’t want to make too much noise about that.”

“…but we are maintaining a posture in the Joint Services aimed at ensuring that those out there who want to be unlawful will be met with the full force of the law,” Greene warned.

Greene noted that despite the challenges, the Joint Services – through hard work, dedication and commitment - ensured that successes were achieved in stemming the crime wave and bringing things under control.

He recalled that some of the “serious challenges” the force was confronted with last year were the brutal killings of a number of persons, especially in and around the Agricola, East Bank Demerara area, the slaying of Agriculture Minister Satyadeow Sawh and his siblings, the missing AK-47s from the army storage bond, the interdiction of (suspected) drug lords such as Roger Khan, and the scandals surrounding the purported taped conversations of former Police Commissioner Winston Felix.

He also noted the high-profile bank robbery in Berbice last year where, for the first time in Guyana, two banks were raided at one time; and the general and regional elections in August.

“I think we have managed to discharge our stewardship to some extent and while there is still a lot more work to be done, success can be achieved with the continued partnership and professionalism (by the Joint Services),” Greene said.

He also thanked President Jagdeo for advocating all efforts at modernizing, training and equipping the force. “We know that once we have your support we will make serious headway,” he told the President.

He assured the President that the Police Force continues to remain steadfast in carrying out its mandate to serve and protect, and fighting crime and traffic lawlessness as is necessary to maintain peace and harmony.

President Jagdeo also promised that before the three-day conference is over, he would return to speak to the officers and ranks again. The annual Police Officers’ Conference is being held at the Police Officers’ Mess, Eve Leary under the theme – ‘Enhancing community safety and security through partnership, professionalism and reform’.

Among those at the opening were Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon, Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee, Chancellor of the Judiciary Carl Singh, Chairman of the Police Complaints Authority and former Chancellor Mr. Cecil Kennard, former Police Commissioners Balram Raghubir, Laurie Lewis and Floyd McDonald, and senior functionaries from the public service and private sector. Most of those on that wanted list were members of a feared gang with links in Agricola, including its then reputed leader Rondell Rawlins, widely known as `Fineman’, of Titus Street, Agricola and Buxton.