Dec 03, 2015 News
… to tackle national security threats
Government has bowed to pressure and has authorized the Guyana Defence Force to join with the Guyana Police Force in their efforts to halt the rise in criminal activity.
The government through Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, announced a major security exercise code named Operation Dragnet.
The move is being seen as an about turn by the government, following President David Granger’s dismissal of the suggestion by former President Donald Ramotar to deploy ranks of the army to assist the police in their fight against crime.
It would seem that with brazen crime after brazen crime, and the police inability to curb it by themselves, the government has been forced to use the army.
According to Harmon, ‘Operation Dragnet’ commenced on December 1 and will conclude on June 1 next year, just after Guyana would have celebrated its 50th Independence anniversary.
The exercise was initiated following a security briefing to Cabinet by Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, following instructions from President David Granger as Government seeks to ramp up security in-light of various security threats.
A major consideration for the deployment of the army was the current crime situation.
Harmon said that the administration has looked at the situation very carefully and has decided to put some additional measures in place “to ensure that people feel safe as they go about their business, people feel safe in their homes, and people feel safe in their schools and in their communities.”
The launching of ‘Operation Dragnet’ will also coincide with the festive season when criminal activity threatens to get out of control, largely because of the movement of a lot of cash.
This will add to the Christmas Police Security Plan initiated recently by the Guyana Police Force.
The Minister of State explained that ‘Operation Dragnet’ partly in response to security concerns that have been raised by sections of the business community with Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin.
“It was felt necessary that the businesses got the assurance that government is taking their concerns into putting some sort of action in place. The Minister of Business to whom several of these complaints had been made…in fact, he has been asking for some time, that we put in place some special arrangements,” Harmon explained.
The Guyana Police Force in a press release yesterday stated that the Joint Services, comprising the Guyana Defence Force, the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Prison Service and the Guyana Fire Service, will be conducting ‘OPERATION DRAGNET’ between December 1, 2015, and June 1, 2016, throughout Guyana with the aim of enhancing national security.
“During this period there will be increased movement of Joint Services personnel and the conduct of intensified security operations, both by individual Services and jointly, which may result in some inconvenience to members of the public. The Joint Services is advising citizens not to be alarmed and calls for their support during ‘OPERATION DRAGNET’.”
Another consideration was the global terror threat.
According to the Minister of State, Cabinet was urged to consider the recent attacks in France, Mali and other nations as indicative that this country was, “not exempted from the threat of terrorism”.
“…Terrorism has no defined borders, terrorism can occur anywhere…. We are not immune from that and therefore it will be remiss of a government if it does not put into place arrangements which will secure its citizenry,” he said.
Harmon stated that the government is not waiting for anything to happen before putting measures in place to deal with this threat.
‘Operation Dragnet’ will see an increased presence of Joint Services members and other law enforcement agencies at key locations across Guyana.
The seven-month long exercise, Harmon said, takes into consideration the parliamentary elections in neighbouring Venezuela which are due on December 6, 2015.
“Therefore, we always have to be on the alert for these things that are occurring on our borders.”
Mention was also made of recent moves by Suriname to reassert a claim to Guyana’s New River Triangle.
He explained, “It means that on the borders there would be an enhanced presence by our armed forces, at the ports of entry there will be intensified scrutiny by the immigration services, in the towns and in the villages, there is going to be an increased presence of police ranks”.
All members of the police force, who are not engaged in core policing functions, would be deployed to give an increased “robust presence” to boost public confidence and ensure safety of the general populace.
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