Trapping illegal activities in border areas---
Guyana needs concerted effort by law enforcement agencies
--Says Police Commissioner McDonald
By Nivedta Kowlessar
November 12, 2003
POLICE Commissioner (Acting) Floyd McDonald yesterday said a combined effort by all law enforcement agencies is needed to trap illegal activities reportedly flourishing in the country's porous border areas.
Crisp, precise display by the GDF Marine wing
McDonald told the Commission conducting an inquiry into the disciplined forces that the Police require the support of the Army, Customs and Civil Aviation Authority to effectively control the situation.
"The ideal thing is to have a method of prevention (of illegal activities) at the borders," he said while wrapping up testimony to the Commission holding public hearings at the Supreme Court Law Library in Georgetown.
McDonald was responding to Commissioner Mr David Granger, who asked what plan was in place to deal with reported incidents of money laundering, smuggling of drugs, gold, diamonds and weapons, and backtracking at border locations.
The Commission also advised McDonald of reports it had received about large-scale marijuana cultivations along the Upper Demerara River with exclusive export by bales to neighbouring Brazil; trafficking on motorcycles and the exchange of marijuana for cocaine.
Commissioner McDonald said the Police need aircraft, equipment and support for better surveillance, but currently take action using its land-based information system and available resources.
An operational plan to block drug trafficking at the borders and along the coastline had to be shelved because of the high cost attached, he reported. Sniffer dogs have also not performed as expected, he said.
McDonald noted that cops need more training in narcotics and criminal investigative techniques and the situation calls for a "blend of all resources".
He told the Commission that policing the country's vast interior locations requires vehicles suited for rough terrain, boats and better facilities for ranks. The Government is aware of such needs and has given the impression that it is willing to meet them, he reported.
There are efforts to use alternative means of transport, for example, horses and bicycles, and to acquire boats and armoured cars, McDonald said.
The Commission also discussed with the top cop the need for quality leadership for the Police Force; specialised 'mock' training; the role of auxiliary groups; the autonomy of divisions and a vehicle licensing racket at Anna Regina, Essequibo.
McDonald advised that investigations into the Anna Regina issue have revealed "some skullduggery" and it should be "sorted out" in two weeks.
In closing remarks to the Commission, he expressed hope that the inquiry would spring improvements in the Force, which, he noted, belongs to all. "We are genuinely interested in ensuring a more efficient and people-oriented Police Force".
McDonald said the Force is "conscious of deficiencies", such as ranks not operating according to rules, but that this happens in all organisations. He noted that regulations are in place to deal with deviants and called for the support of the public to ensure the Police are seen as representing the interests of all Guyanese.
The Commission was appointed in June to investigate the Police, Army, Prison and Fire Services.
It is chaired by Justice Ian Chang and comprises Senior Counsel, Charles Ramson, Attorney-at-Law, Anil Nandlall, Brigadier (retired), David Granger and Maggie Bierne, a member of the Commission for the Administration of Justice in Northern Ireland.