– Top Cop hopes unit will not have to be deployed
Commissioner of Police (Ag) Seelall Persaud announced that training under contracted overseas
consultants for the Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) unit has been completed.
He made the announcement yesterday during his address at the police force’s annual end of year awards ceremony.
According to Persaud, although the main exercise has been completed, the ranks will continue training in order to support new entrants to the unit, as well as conduct practical and firearms training for other ranks of the Force.
To date the unit has not been engaged in any real exercise to assess their readiness for the purpose for which they are intended – to engage in high profile and potentially deadly criminal intervention.
But, according to the Top Cop, there are conditions that control the deployment of the unit.
“So far that unit has never been deployed and I’ll be happy if I can come here next year and report that it has never been deployed. It means that serious security situation has not arisen in Guyana,” the Commissioner stated.
The establishment of the SWAT unit is one aspect of the force’s strategic plan which is aimed at developing a professional police force capable of adapting to modern trends of crime fighting.
Commissioner Persaud was also pleased to announce that the strategic plan is on track to meet the deadlines set for the execution of certain aspects within the first year of its implementation.
This announcement comes a few weeks after the Ministry of Home Affairs had pointed to a lack of commitment on the part of the Guyana Police Force towards the strategic plan.
The Acting Commissioner told the gathering that this year has been a different year for the organization, since the strategic plan by itself would have seen structural and cultural changes taking place within the Guyana Police Force.
However, this state of affairs has brought with it some challenges and excitement, he said, while highlighting five priority areas that have been undertaken during this first phase of the plan.
Apart from the establishment of the SWAT unit, the other aspects that have been undertaken so far include partnership building, the Cops and Faith initiative, a suicide hotline and electronic documentation.
According to Commissioner Persaud, in the area of partnership, the Force has benefitted from training to deal with domestic violence and sexual offences. The training was done by trainers from the Pennsylvania State Police.
This was done through the Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee in his engagement with the local United States of America Embassy under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative.
Then there is the Cops and Faith Initiative, which he said has been a tremendous success. Under this programme, juvenile first offenders with minor offences will be able to avoid custodial penalties as a result of the intervention of religious leaders, once all the parties agree to an amicable settlement.
“What has initially started out as a pilot (project) is now a countrywide solution,” the Commissioner (Ag) said.
Persaud disclosed that the police force has also implemented a suicide hotline, which is aimed at enabling potential suicide victims, to interact with specially trained ranks who might be able to talk them out of the intended act.
“The objective here is to provide psychological relief to that person and change those suicidal intentions that may be occupying the mind at the time,” he said.
Another strategy objective that he described as a work in progress is the electronic documentation system, which is an information technology platform that the force is building to deal with personal records and stores.
“This will enable management decisions at the click of a button.”
This system will be further enhanced by assistance from the Guyana Defence Force in terms of ordinance software, which will track seizures of property by the police at the station level.
“We had the case at Leonora where we had to charge a rank for stealing monies that had been collected legitimately, and converting that money to his own use. This system will allow us to prevent those activities from occurring,” Persaud explained.
The Commissioner (Ag) did not fail to mention the incidence of high profile crimes that have been taking place throughout the country. This gives the impression of another crime wave.
However, he pointed out that in most cases, persons are apprehended and charged within a week or two after the commission of these crimes.
This he attributed to intelligence training of his ranks and inter-agency collaboration.
According to Persaud, Joint Services collaboration is probably at its highest today with the removal of a lot of red tape that had been hindrances.
“Something happens, the network among agencies kicks in…so persons get arrested, information pertaining to crime occurring are fed into the right places and action is being taken,” Persaud stated.
According to Persaud, to date there has been a decrease in violent crimes, although murders and armed robberies have been a concern.
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