Community Policing Groups warned of moles seeking to join crime fight
May 7, 2007
Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee, and Acting Police Commissioner, Henry Greene, have admonished Community Policing Groups (CPG) across the country to guard against infiltrators who might seek to join the crime fight in their community.
Both were speaking at the opening of the National Policing Conference at Eve Leary yesterday, where they agitated for closer collaboration between CPGs and the police.
Delivering the feature address, Minister Rohee said CPGs must be seen as part and parcel of the community in which they operate and not as a group of isolated people who would appear at certain times of the day driving around in a vehicle.
He told the audience, which included Divisional Police Commanders, that he has been to communities where persons have told him about the nonexistence of a CPG, when in fact the community has a group that is registered as functional.
“I think this disconnect is something that has to be addressed. I am not saying that it is widespread…It makes no sense whatsoever for us to have on record so many active policing groups and the people in the communities don't even know who are the members of the group in their community,” Minister Rohee said.
He urged CPGs present to fashion a programme where they would walk around the community and chat with the residents of the community so that residents can connect with the members of the group.
Rohee also urged CPGs not to make the groups “exclusive membership clubs,” since expansion is important. He added that sometimes the security concern issue is sometimes blown out of proportion.
“I think certain benchmarks and criteria must be used. This situation sometimes is taken to the extreme by some members of Community Policing Groups, so much so to the detriment and exclusion of people who would like to play a role in these groups,” Minister Rohee said.
While advocating for the need for “fresh blood” being injected into CPGs, he however echoed similar sentiments expressed by Greene, urging CPGs to screen new members thoroughly.
Greene, speaking earlier, stressed the important role played by CPGs to the crime fight within the various communities.
“Community policing is very important to us…You are our eyes and ears; you know the community better than us and I think if each of you put your shoulder to the wheel, I think we would be able to solve more of the crime problems that we have in our society,” Greene told members of CPG executives.
He sounded a chilling waning to CPGs of the existence of criminal elements seeking to join the crime fight.
“What we must be careful about is that persons in our midst are not always what they appear to be; persons who have criminal links could infiltrate our organisation and take back information to persons out there. It has happened before, it could happen again. But I feel strongly that the CPG must be more vigilant so that new members are scrutinized properly to ensure that the person is joining to serve the community.”
He urged CPGs to “work hand in glove” with the police, noting that once group members operate outside the confines of the law, similar treatment meted out to members of the force will also greet them.
“Ever so often we need to keep that in mind…police community is policing the community, working with the police to ensure that peace and tranquility can prevail,” Greene stated.
He noted that since the early days of the national CPG body, things have changed, with current members understanding and appreciating their role in the fight against crime.
Greene noted that there were some initial concerns that the role of the national body was pulling apart from the general leadership of the force.
“It is not so today because the present members understand their role of upholding law and order in their communities,” Greene alluded.
At the end of the one-day conference CPG representatives from the various divisions were expected to elect a new executive body to the national committee.
A wide range of issues were also raised during yesterday's meeting, including identification slips for CPG members and the connection between divisional commanders and members of the CPG groups.