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Speaking at his weekly post-Cabinet news conference at the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Luncheon noted that he was informed by the Police that some protective gear have already arrived here from overseas. However, but because of the large amount of items needed, the gear would be arriving in batches.
"So you would get a batch now, another batch in a couple of weeks. This is the general approach in procuring personalised weapons and the body protection equipment," Luncheon said.
In terms of training of ranks in the use of these weaponry and protective gear, Luncheon said training is slated to begin this month once a sufficient number of weapons and body protection items are in Guyana and are available for use. He explained that a good part of the training has to do with the Policemen using the arms and finding the best ways of protecting themselves.
The Guyana Police Force has 'upped the ante' to procure protective gear and weaponry so as to better handle the escalating crime situation currently gripping the country.
To this end, Commissioner of Police-Designate, Mr. Winston Felix, travelled overseas a few weeks ago to source both, in particular the protective wear.
Indications are that this project will cost almost double the $100M that was released by the Government a few months ago to upgrade the Police Force.
President Bharrat Jagdeo, at a news conference he hosted at State House on June 7 last, had said that tackling the crime situation was the Government's top priority. He had then announced a set of new initiatives to deal with the crime situation. The measures included the release of $100M to the Police Force to boost its weaponry and other aspects.
At a news conference on August 14, President Jagdeo had expressed disappointment that after one month this project had not been completed.
The President had said then, also, that the $100M for weaponry, communication and protective gear was in addition to the allocation in the 2002 National Budget.
Other measures include:
**The undertaking of a comprehensive reform of the Intelligence Sector to strengthen intelligence gathering to support the fight against crime, narco-trafficking and threats to internal security, along with improvements in the investigative capacity of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID);
**The establishment of a specialised training centre where Police ranks and other law enforcement officers will be exposed, on a continuous basis, to modern anti-crime tactics and methods, especially on strategies, tactics and leadership. Training in the use of modern weapons will now be a feature of the standard training programme for all law enforcement personnel.
** A complete review of existing legislation on crime, intended to lead to the introduction of new laws and to toughen existing penalties for criminal activities, and to make prosecution and conviction of criminals easier.
** The establishment of a special "crime crack force", along the lines of a SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) Team to complement existing units.
The SWAT team will comprise a large enough group of specially trained and well-provided-for armed officers and ranks who will respond mainly to these new forms of criminal activities and acts of domestic terrorism.
Regarding this special force, Luncheon told reporters yesterday that the administrationís commitment to the establishment of this squad is still very important and that the identification of the human resources, whether from civilian or existing law enforcement agencies, is the next step in the process. Training will follow this development.
Luncheon recalled mentioning at a previous press briefing, that the definitive agreements have been reached during the Governmentís bilateral engagements with the British and Indian administrations to provide for training.
"This special force would come into existence when the training is completed," Luncheon asserted.