– Police officers urged to intensify criminal intelligence gathering
The Guyana Police Force has been assured of the provision of all the tools necessary to develop the process of intelligence-led crime fighting.
This assurance was given by President Bharrat Jagdeo during the feature address of this year’s Police Officers’ Annual Conference, which opened yesterday at Eve Leary.
Jagdeo reminded the officers that whatever they do in terms of crime fighting, it has to be intelligence driven, since the entire world has moved in that direction.
Over the past two years, the Guyana Police Force has been trying to catch up with counterparts in the region and further afield.
Intelligence gathering was one of the main topics on the agenda for last year’s Police Officers’ Conference and this year the focus will be intensified.
And according to the President, the Guyana Police Force has answered the key question which relates to the future role of law enforcement.
To this end, he lashed out at the critics of the plan to establish a special intelligence agency which will work in collaboration with the police intelligence gathering arm.
Critics have accused the government of creating the agency with the intent to spy on citizens and political opponents.
“Let me make it clear, we don’t need to spy on political opponents. If I want to find out information, I just get somebody to go to a rum shop and they will give me all the intelligence I need on political opponents…we don’t have any desire to spy on political opponents or citizens,” Jagdeo stated.
He said that while many are clamouring for more effective policing, at the same time they are condemning measures that are taken to assist the law enforcement agencies. According to the President, the proposed agency will be made up of persons who will be able to garner particularly electronic intelligence, using high-tech surveillance methods.
“It is no secret that we intend to dominate our landscape with cameras,” Jagdeo added.
He said that in other countries, these measures are not seen as a violation of human rights.
The president commended the officers for their outstanding contribution towards reducing criminal activity despite the limited resources available to them when compared with the developed world.
In his remarks, Commissioner Henry Greene noted that the force has managed to use its intelligence gathering mechanisms to good effect, especially when it came to keeping track of criminal elements.
He said that the force has been able to compile data which reveal that there are not many new faces in the criminal underworld.
He said that most of the criminals are the regular suspects and even the new ones identified are linking with the old hands to carry out their activities.
Over the years, the Guyana Police Force has had to use ingenious ways to solve crimes in the absence of proper forensic and other scientific aids as is the case with many other law enforcement agencies around the world.
This is despite the international nature of criminal activities presently engaging the local law enforcement agencies.
In this regard the President urged that more focus will have to be placed on intelligence gathering in order to effectively prevent and curtail crime.
“The most effective police forces around the world are the ones that are led by intelligence,” the Head-of-State told the gathering which included members of the cabinet, heads of other Disciplined Services and retired officers of the Police Force.
But while many try to compare the work of the local police with their counterparts in the developed world and point to the great gap in effectiveness, the president defended the Guyana Police Force’s leadership.
He pointed out that the other law enforcement agencies have all the tools to pursue their jobs and it is unfair to compare the local Police Force.
“For example, many people are in awe of the FBI but it’s not just that they have top agents…but they can under controlled circumstances eavesdrop on criminals, we never had that tool,” Jagdeo explained.
Guyana has only recently passed legislation that allows local law enforcement to use this mechanism to fight criminal activities.
The President added that also in the developed world, there are a number of intelligence agencies to aid the police forces.
“We don’t have all those resources, so we have to tailor our intelligence gathering in a fashion that will serve multiple purposes,” the president stated.
“The tools that we are giving to you now are tools that developed law enforcement around the world already have, but fortunately for them, they do not have these fringe groups that complain about everything under the sun,” the President added.
Apart from the law that allows for the interception of phone calls, the government has also passed the Anti-money laundering Act, and there is also a plan to have legislation on cyber crime.
Already there are stiffer penalties for firearm related crimes.
Jagdeo said that the administration is also in the process of putting in place time limits for decision-making with regards to court matters.
But the President noted that the officers would have to be more accountable when it comes to matters in their respective divisions.
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