'Give us the resources to police' -Greene tells govt
By Nigel Williams
February 9, 2007
Two officers attending the annual police officers' conference perusing materials to be used during the sessions. (Ken Moore photo)
Commissioner of Police (ag), Henry Greene yesterday told a gathering including President Bharrat Jagdeo that the police force was prepared to do the work of serving and protecting citizens, but they must be given the resources to do it effectively.
And he announced that they were still looking for Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras to be installed in specific areas. He did not elaborate on this nor did he give any indication as to how soon the cameras were expected.
Government had publicized the planned acquisition of the CCTV cameras last year announcing that $50 million was set aside for this. The cameras were to be installed at the end of last year.
In his opening address at the annual police officers' conference held at the Police Officers' Mess, Eve Leary, Greene declared: "We are here to do it, we are prepared to do it, give us the resources to do it," the Acting Commissioner said.
Jagdeo, who delivered the feature address at the opening session of the conference, has argued that his government continues to invest in the security forces pointing out that the budgetary allocation to the police and army have increased over the years.
The conference, which will run for three days, is being held under the theme 'Enhancing Community Safety and Security Through Partnership, Professionalism and Reform.'
Greene told his officers that if they cannot help change the attitudes of citizens by helping them to uphold the laws, then as a force they would have failed.
Speaking to the theme of this year's conference, Greene mentioned the many sensational murders that gripped the country last year. He recalled the February 28 slaying of eight people in Agricola by gunmen connected to the Buxton criminal gang. Following that massacre, Greene said, there was the assassination of Agriculture Minister Satyadeow Sawh and his family, the killing of five pressmen from Kaieteur News, the theft of 30 AK-47 rifles from the army along with the mysterious tapping of retired police commissioner, Winston Felix's telephone. Greene told the audience that all these things and others made their work very challenging, but they persevered and were able to reap some success.
He said robberies at the two commercial banks in Berbice and the raiding of several properties of drug dealers were also challenging tasks, but at the end the joint services came out on top. He said they were able to do all of this through partnership. Greene said the police continue to value the support of their partners, namely the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) as well as the various community policing groups in the fight against crime.
Highlighting some of their successes, Greene pointed to the slaying of eight of the bank robbers and the recovery of a number of the stolen AK-47s. He said too that they were able to make a severe dent in the criminal enterprise at Agricola, by interdicting some of the gang members. Further, Greene said that Anthony Charles called 'Kussum', who was killed late last year during a confrontation with the joint services at Bachelor's Adventure was another success for the force. He said Charles was wanted in connection with the missing AK-47s, but after he decided to challenge the lawmen, he was killed.
Neil Bovell who terrorized citizens along the West Bank Demerara for three years was also on the commissioner's success list. Bovell was killed last year December during an armed confrontation with the police. He was wanted for a number of rapes and also two murders.
Greene said the police will continue to work along with the GDF, which he said has been supporting the force tremendously in its work.
The commissioner said ranks must at all times behave professionally in the discharge of their duties. "We will not countenance wrong-doing by any rank," Greene warned.
He credited most of the force's success to date to hard work, which was intelligence-led, adding that there was a seven per cent reduction in crime for last year and so far this year crime is relatively under control. He said the joint services would continue to maintain a posture to deter criminals and maintained that the presence of armed policemen on the streets will continue. In the area of forensics, Greene said efforts are being made to improve the forensic capabilities of the force. He said under the reform component a modern laboratory would be established, which will enhance their ability to conduct DNA testing among other things. Greene mentioned that work on the reforms has begun, noting that in the area of traffic an advisory board has already been established and its members met recently. He said the Special Firearms Unit or SWAT team has received training already. Some 140 officers are attending the three-day conference, 35 of whom are doing so for the first time having been promoted recently.
In his address to the officers, Jagdeo said that he has become more optimistic over the last several months as a result of the work of the joint services. According to the Head of State there is a growing sense of security for all and for this he was very proud of the work of the servicemen. The President however said that whenever the conduct and the work of the police warrant criticism his administration would criticise, but cautioned the officers not to feel that government was not in support of them. "I have tremendous confidence in Mr Greene and the Chief-of-Staff (of the Guyana Defence Force) Edward Collins," the President said to thunderous applause from the officers.
The President said the nation owed the joint services a debt of gratitude for the tremendous work they did during and after last year's general elections to maintain the peace. "We entered those elections with a lot of misgivings that the growing security threat would have continued. But we were able to reverse that cycle," the Head of State said. He noted that the Joint Services' success during the elections could also be credited to their decision to patrol the streets months before the elections. Jagdeo said the country broke with tradition, allowing the army to be on the streets on elections day.
The President told the officers that in trying to address crime they must also look at development and noted this is why it was so necessary for the reforms in the police force. The President said he was pleased with the pace with which the reforms were moving, but he asserted that much more work needs to be done. Only last week the government signed the agreement with the Inter-American-Development Bank for the US$22 million, some of which would be used for the police reforms.
On the issue of crime, Jagdeo charged the officers to take a zero-tolerance approach to all transgressions whether serious or petty crimes. He said it bothers him to see policemen ignoring the commission of petty crimes such as littering and some traffic infractions. Jagdeo said because of the policemen's attitudes to some of these things he was sometimes forced to get involved. He said whenever he does he is accused of micro-managing.
The President called on the officers to read widely, encouraging them to keep abreast with world events as well as domestic issues. "For you to succeed and give good leadership you have to have a broad vision of the world and the challenges it faces as well as your own country," Jagdeo said.
The President also expressed confidence in the security forces' ability to provide the necessary security and protection to citizens as well as visitors during the upcoming Rio Group Summit as well as the Cricket World Cup. The conference opening was attended by a number of top public and private officials, including, the heads of disciplined forces, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon and several other prominent individuals.