– 27 ranks to commence training
By Zena Henry
Twenty-seven of the Guyana Police Force (GPF)’s finest were yesterday introduced to the public as they gear for intense, high-level training to assemble the country’s first ever Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team.
They were identified during a special ceremony at the Police Force’s Camp Road Training Centre, attended by keynote speaker Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee, Police Commissioner Leroy Brumell, senior police officials, members of the security sector and several public stakeholders.
During the occasion, which marked the official launch of the much anticipated tactical unit, Minister Rohee addressed what he said was a continuous echo by persons who opposed the commissioning of a local SWAT team.
“This SWAT team, as far as I am aware, is not being established to oppose and suppress members of the public or members of the opposition and people who are opposed to the government.” He continued that the team is not being established, “to be used as a political tool, or to accomplish political objectives,” but rather to fulfill certain professional responsibilities based on established Standard Operating Procedures.
Rohee also slammed those who were outspoken about the non-necessity of a SWAT unit in Guyana, stating that a case had been made out with respect to its relevance. He said the question is whether the team will be helpful and contribute positively or not, before positing that any move in the current direction will see the people being the beneficiaries.
“There are some who claim to have a wealth of knowledge on security matters, and claim to be security experts, who themselves question the necessity for a SWAT team… but I am not a security expert and I don’t have a wealth of knowledge on security matters, I am just a mere politician.”
The Minister said that based on what he has learnt on security matters, he is uncertain how those claiming to know so much about security, question the need for a SWAT team.
Minister Rohee charged that from 2004 to last year, some $2B has been spent on security. He expressed disapproval of the country’s crime rate. He said he is not at all satisfied with the level of criminal activity taking place in the country, especially with the large sums of money being used to address the issue.
He thus urged the SWAT ranks to perform diligently and professionally, as it is demanded of them, to give quality for money. Minister Rohee highlighted investments made in equipment such as the force’s water cannon, CCTV (surveillance), forensic improvement and transportation among other things, before reiterating the need for citizens to experience a more secure country based on the money that is being spent.
The Minister urged citizens to see the establishment of a SWAT team as a phase of the modernization of the GPF.
“The establishment of this unit has to be looked at in the context of modernizing the GPF. If you are modernizing the force and you have done other interventions… establishing a SWAT team must be seen as part and parcel of modernizing the force; it is moving from the old into the new, and that is a positive development.”
Commissioner of Police Leroy Brumell said that despite the need of the SWAT team to have the ability to dilute sporadic matters of security, the most important aspect is, “serious discipline, training, coordination, precision, professionalism and the ability to make positive decisions in any eventuality.”
He said the Administration saw training as pivotal and thus collated with The Emergence Group (TEG) to formalize training.
“Sporadic situations emerging, if not manage effectively, can evolve into acts of terrorism; as such a SWAT team is a vital component to our organizational structure. SWAT establishes strong training attendance standards which are mandatory, day by day, addressing civil and state emerging issues such as hostage rescue, resolving high-risk issues, and dissolving acts of terrorism.”
Brumell informed the gathering that the selection process for the SWAT team was based on criteria set out by senior management and specialized officers of the GPF who looked at age, health, mind-set, years of service, experience and conduct.
“There are two major benefits of enhanced SWAT training; improvement in job specification, general physical preparedness, and overall physical performance. It reduces injury rates which can lead to the operational longevity of the SWAT operator.”
Dennis Hays, Director of TEG, the group tasked with training the officers, explained the purpose of SWAT and related the benefits of the unit. He highlighted that SWAT is also another way of ensuring security in the country, based on the high level of training and tactics. He stated further that SWAT helps also to reduce the amount of violence needed to keep the country safe.
Senior Superintendent Paul Williams, Force Training Officer, introduced 15 Constables, three Cadet Officers, Corporals and Sergeants, two Assistant Superintendents and one Special Constable, as the initial batch of SWAT trainees.
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