Slowe defends police response to fatal Corentyne robbery
-ranks had taken car to scene

Stabroek News
June 15, 2003

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Commander of `B’ Division, Paul Slowe, has refuted claims by residents that his officers had responded much too slowly to last Saturday’s fatal robbery at a Corentyne supermarket.

Some residents say the ranks only arrived thirty minutes after the bandits had fled the scene.

Slowe says the police have arrested several persons in connection with the robbery and they are hoping to get a break in the case shortly.

Armed bandits had attacked A Sain and Son Supermarket in Williamsburg, robbing its owner and killing Saisenarine Ramnauth, a schoolteacher. He had reportedly resisted their efforts to commandeer his car.

Speaking to Stabroek News on Friday at his New Amsterdam office, Slowe said that he had not received any such reports from ranks at the station.

“I have checked out these reports, and it is clear from what I have checked, while the response might have been a little slow, it was not thirty minutes after the robbery.”

According to the commander while the robbery was in commission a man was able to slip away and went to a place nearby to make a phone call.

“When he went to the place he called out the man; the man after assimilating what had taken place then called the Albion Police Station. According to him... he was told that there was no vehicle available at the station at the time. The female rank that received the call at the time indicated that she got the call and the sergeant was there at the time and she told him someone was reporting a robbery and he asked her to find out where exactly...”

Slowe said the rank had cupped the receiver of the phone to speak to the sergeant and by the time she got back to the caller he had hung up.

He acknowledged that maybe it was not the best thing for the rank to report to the sergeant first before asking where the robbery was being committed.

“She should have automatically sought to get information from the person as to where the robbery was...”

He explained that while the station did have a working vehicle, it was out on patrol.

“At the time the vehicle had gone east on patrol. This was confirmed by independent sources, it had gone east towards Whim. There is a vehicle at Albion and it cannot remain at the station all the time just waiting for a phone call...”

He said that the sergeant did not sit and wait for the vehicle to return but sought to arm himself and two other ranks with weapons and bulletproof vests; “Then they went out on the road and stopped a vehicle and arrived on the scene.”

Slowe said he had spoken to the supermarket owner Akbar Sain and while people had been aggrieved that the police had not arrived during the commission of the actual robbery, “...I think there is some amount of satisfaction that the police did everything that they could to arrive there as quickly as possible. It is unfortunate that the vehicle was out on patrol or they would have been able to respond much quicker than they did.”

He said that following the incident all the senior officers of the division were on the scene to give directions on how the investigation should be carried out.

In relation to the belief of some that the largely East Coast and city-based criminal activities might have shifted to the Corentyne area, Slowe said that there had only be one serious incident. “I don’t think we can classify that one serious incident as an upsurge; there was one and we are working on that one and working that similar incidents do not occur.”

He said the division had taken measures to ensure that they were on top of the crime situation.

“And many people in Berbice have indicated to me that they see patrols and they see measures that tend to suggest that we are doing what we can to fight crime...”

He said things had been relatively quiet in Berbice although they have had a few incidents.

He called on residents to offer all the support they could, adding that following last Sunday’s incident persons in that area had reported seeing strange persons in the village.

“Don’t wait until something happens. If you see something strange or suspicious bring it to our attention so that we can be more proactive, we don’t want to be running after people after they commit crimes. The best form of policing is proactive policing.”

Recently a policing community group staged a protest calling for Slowe to be removed from the division as was reported in another section of the media.

Slowe conceded that the Susannah Community Policing Group has had a problem with him. He said he had seen the document that had been circulated by the group and described it as being a “very wicked and malicious document with some very unfounded claims.”

According to Slowe the man who signed the document and whose name he provided, was a former rural constable who was alleged to have assaulted a man. The man had been charged, he said, and was before the New Amsterdam magistrate.

Slowe said that his appointment as rural constable had been revoked, because it was required that this be done by the relevant divisional commander once someone holding this office was charged. “I think it is a personal thing with the gentleman,” he said, “and I will maintain that I would continue to do my job... as I see it.”

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