$30.5M station commissioned…
Police work under atrocious conditions-Home Affairs Minister
- govt. working to correct situation

Kaieteur News
January 30, 2007

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Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee has acknowledged that the country's policemen and women are working under atrocious conditions, but he assured that the government will do everything in its power to correct the situation.

Delivering the feature address at yesterday's official opening of the Golden Grove Police Station, on the East Bank of Demerara, the Minister said he recently completed a visit to police facilities in the East Berbice area and was appalled at the conditions under which the country's law enforcement officers work.

“I believe that there is a limit to which modesty must go when we come to talk about conditions under which policemen and women must work. One does not expect policemen and women to live and work in conditions of a three-star, a four-star or five-star hotel, but certainly I do not expect them to be working and living in barracks that they ought not to be housed in,” Minister Rohee stated.

He said that even though the government is not in a position to enhance the remuneration of the Police Force, the least it can do is to constantly improve the conditions under which they live and work.

According to Rohee, it is a welcome development that the Citizens' Security Programme will result in vast improvement of the conditions that obtain at police stations across the country.

The Golden Grove Police Station, which was constructed at a cost $30.5M, is the third such facility to be commissioned within the past six months, following the commissioning of the Fort Wellington and Turkeyen Police Stations late last year.

Construction of the facility began on August 12 last, and was completed on September 6.

Like the two other new facilities, the Golden Grove Police Station is equipped with an enquiries office, a radar room, three interviewing rooms (with special emphasis on privacy), a Criminal Investigations Department room, and five lock-ups.

“Those ranks who would be working at this station must consider themselves fortunate, because when you look at the conditions at other stations under which other ranks are working, and you compare the two, there's a big difference,” the Home Affairs Minister said.

He noted that it is the intention of the government, through the Citizens' Security Programme, to remodel police stations in a way not only to provide comfort to the ranks, but for them to become visitor-friendly.

According to the Minister, it is amazing to see the number of record-keeping books at police stations in these modern times.

“I believe that we have some urgent catching up to do… especially with the modern ways and means of record-keeping,” the Minister stated.

Last year, the government spent $4.4B in seeking to ensure that the security forces were prepared and well equipped.

And according to Minister Rohee, in the next several days, the Minister of Finance will announce how much money was spent last year and how much the government envisages expending this year on the security forces.

“It is clear from the trend that the figure keeps increasing, and not decreasing. This alone shows that the government is committed to placing at the disposal of the law enforcement agencies, and particularly the Police, the resources in order to keep the fight against crime going and at a very high level,” the Minister said.

He said that the commissioning of the Golden Grove Police Station is another significant development in the enhancement of the Guyana Police Force and its ranks.

He noted that, with the ever-increasing population on the East Bank of Demerara, with new housing areas being developed, the opening of the station could not have come at a better time.

In the Grove area alone, there were numerous reports of burglaries, robberies under arms, and larceny; and the station is strategically placed to cope with the situation.

His observation was echoed by Acting Commissioner Henry Greene who, in brief remarks, noted that the Force has been focusing on the Grove/Diamond district for the past two years.

Greene said that the Police Force has noticed the growing trend of criminal activity in the area, and has implemented systems to deal specifically with it.

“We've merged patrols between Providence and Golden Grove Station, in addition to the TSU and the Impact patrols, to ensure this area is protected. Once there are people, new buildings, new communities springing up, the attendant ills will always come with it. Our work here is to ensure that you feel safe to walk these streets, confident that you will get to your home,” the Acting Commissioner told the gathering, which included several residents of the community.

The Home Affairs Minister urged the ranks in the district to also focus on the traffic situation on the East Bank of Demerara, which appears to be taking on new dimensions in terms of the number of accidents, due to the rapid development that is taking place.

Minister Rohee noted that, while some are attributing the current period of relative calm to other factors, they have not been giving credit to the Police who, in his words, have been doing an excellent job.

He congratulated the Force, other law enforcement agencies and community policing groups, and all the law-abiding citizens ‘who have refused to be intimidated or threatened by criminal elements, and who have taken a stance and fought back'.

And Acting Commissioner Greene noted that the event should mark a departure from the same old ways of the Force.

“I do hope that this building would be a reflection of a newness of approach, a newness of thinking, of method, of dedication, commitment. Persons must come here and be satisfied that action will be taken, that the Police will operate with a blindfold - not names, faces; whoever gets involved, the Police have a right to take action and correct the wrongdoing,” Greene said, noting that the Police Force is one station.

Greene said that the internal investigative arm of the Force -- the Office of Professional Responsibility – received, last year, several reports of neglect of duty by Police ranks.

“Throughout this country, our major report, our major complaint, continues to be ranks neglecting their duty. Persons make reports, and limited or no action is taken until they make a complaint. I hope this will not happen at this station,” the Acting Commissioner stated.

He also had a strong warning for criminal elements who may feel that the Force will relax now that the situation is relatively better that it was before.

“With whatever limited resources we have, we do not back down in the Force, we don't back from the criminal elements. We are here to ensure that we, the community, the Police, stay on top of whatever levels of crime might be raising their ugly heads,” the Acting Commissioner stressed.

He repeated a call for members of the community to work with the Force, noting that it is the testimony of residents that would help the Police to solve crimes.

“Sometimes, it is so sad when criminal elements commit themselves badly and they get people to go and talk members of the community into not going to court. When criminal elements steal, break homes, and then people go and try to negotiate and tell people not to go to court, I think you are helping to promote crime within your community,” Greene stated.