Cops raise safety concerns with Police Commissioner (Actg)
Guyana Chronicle
August 14, 2002

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IN THE wake of the two most recent drive-by shootings of Policemen by criminal elements, members of the Guyana Police Force yesterday requested an urgent meeting with Acting Commissioner of Police Mr. Floyd Mc Donald. They wanted to raise a number of concerns regarding challenge posed to the Force by criminals. They also sought assurance of the safety of ranks performing their duties.

Police Public Relations Officer Assistant Superintendent David Ramnarine said that a meeting was held at the Brickdam Police Station yesterday and it was attended by top Police Officers and junior ranks.

"Because of the attacks on Policemen over the past few months, and after the recent attacks on the Police by bandits, ranks have become apprehensive, and (they) vented their feelings," Ramnarine said.

He said a wide range of issues was discussed, and decisions were arrived at by top Policemen. However, he did not say what the decisions were. Another Police source told the Chronicle that one of the issues raised was the payment of` risk allowances to members of the Force.

On Saturday night, Police Constable Muniram Jayanand was wounded in a drive-by shooting in front of a Camp Street disco while he was performing traffic control duties there. He was rushed to Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation GPHC and underwent emergency surgery.

On Monday night, three Policemen were rushed to the GPHC with gunshot wounds following an attack by gunmen on a Police Mobile Patrol, in the vicinity of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Brickdam. The patrol was returning to the IMPACT Base in the compound of the Brickdam Police Station when the incident occurred.

Reports say that as the ranks were proceeding to the base, a white motorcar drove past the Police vehicle firing a hail of bullets, which resulted in the ranks being wounded.

Constable Mark Joseph, 22, of 5B Tucville, is listed as being in critical condition, while Delroy Lewis, 20, of 3555 Spurwing Drive, South Ruimveldt and Lochan Cobeer, 35, of Annandale, East Coast Demerara are said to be in stable condition.

The Police in a press release said a motorcar, which is suspected to have been stolen from a taxi driver by three armed bandits about 21:00 hours in Rasville, South Ruimveldt, was allegedly used to commit this act. The vehicle was later found abandoned at William Street, Campbellville.

Several bullets holes are on the right side of the Police vehicle, which came under attack, the release said.

Meanwhile, the Police Association in a press statement yesterday said it notes with concern the new method now adopted by criminals in their continued violent attacks on its members.

“During the past 48 hours, four of our members were shot at and seriously injured in two separate drive by shootings,” the statement said.

The Association has strongly condemned these attacks and is calling on civil society to do likewise.

"The Police Force in its effort to suppress crime and maintain law and order is dependent upon the support of all law abiding citizens to efficiently and effectively discharge this mandate. Therefore, it is important that members of civil society voice their concern by condemning these attacks on law enforcement officers," the Association urged.

“We wish to remind the public that an attack on any Policeman/woman is an attack on their families, who are members of civil society, and also an attack on the Force as a whole. Hence we must all work together and send a strong message to the criminals that these attacks will not deter members of the Force from discharging their mandate,” the statement from the Association affirmed.

The Association said it is of the view that the time has come for the authorities to give serious consideration to the payment of a risk allowance to members of the Force, who are under constant and violent attack by criminal elements.

The Association also said it extends sincere gratitude to the public-spirited persons, who rendered assistance to the injured Policemen on Monday night.

The Working People's Alliance in a press statement issued yesterday also, said that the shooting of the four Policemen over the last couple of days further undermines the rule of law in Guyana and underscores the need for speedy corrective action.

"Unbridled lawlessness has now become the norm, as all of Guyana is being consumed. Our country is on the brink of an implosion from which it will take decades to recover."

WPA said that it has now become difficult to determine what is naked criminal activity and what is politically motivated, adding, “Our fragile racial environment further complicates the situation. No civilised nation can continue to function in this condition of anarchy”.

It noted that the incident at Enmore in which a lactating mother was violated by a male, who accompanied Police ranks during a search exercise by the Police on her home, is ample proof of the madness that has consumed Guyana.

Pointing out that the Enmore incident is only one example of this wicked phenomenon, the W PA said they will not sit idly and allow this barbarism against women to continue.

WPA said is angered by the fact that the Government continues to behave as if nothing is happening. "We have long concluded that the Government is incapable of handling the situation on its own. Hence it has a duty to request help from other quarters."

“The WPA and the People's National Congress (PNC) have already suggested a course of action. Rather than trading words with the PNC, the Government should forthwith summon the opposition parties and other related agencies to deal with this matter. Further delay will force the WPA to wonder if the People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) is benefiting or intends to benefit from this situation,” the WPA statement continued.

“WPA has long rejected the tactics of the Black Clothes, which in no small measure have contributed to the current impasse. We reiterate our call for an urgent inquiry into their behaviour. We however wish to express our solidarity with those officers in the country's Police Force who, by their demonstrated professionalism in this difficult period, continue to uphold the dignity of the Force.

"We advise against any rash actions that could further endanger innocent citizens and aggravate tension. This is a time for soberness and the Government must take the lead," the Alliance urged.