…but force has achieved a lot – Top Cop
As the year comes to a close, Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud has described the past 11-plus months
as a period filled with incredible challenges and experiences for the force.
Addressing the annual year end police awards ceremony, the country’s Top Cop said that despite these challenges and experiences, the Guyana Police Force has achieved quite a lot.
He was obviously referring to the public perception of spiraling crime and the Force’s successful response that has seen many perpetrators arrested in a number of high-profile crimes.
Persaud opined that some of the outstanding achievements of the Force not only operationally, but institutionally, if measured correctly, will significantly alter the negative public image that has plagued the force over the years.
He started off by admitting that in terms of serious crimes, the figures show that the Force has recorded a seven percent increase on last year’s figure. The Commissioner was keen to point out that murders are down by two per cent for the same period.
A major concern, however, is gun robberies, which have increased by seven percent, and larceny which has recorded a nine per cent increase.
In response, the Force is boasting that it has been able to remove illegal weapons from the hands of criminals. In all, 297 illegal weapons have been seized so far this year. But that total does not reflect any major offensive to rein in illegal weapons, since 186 of these were collected during the recent two-month amnesty.
Regarding narcotics, the Force has seized/destroyed, so far this year, 854,000 kg of cannabis and 151 kg of cocaine.
“We have eradicated 17 fields of cannabis under cultivation, an estimated total of fifty-and-a-half acres, and destroyed from those fields 849,000 kg of cannabis,” the Commissioner related.
Persaud told those gathered at the Tactical Services Unit Drill Square yesterday, that the Force’s investment in capacity building is producing dividends. One such investment is in the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU), which is concentrating on financial investigations and which, according to the Commissioner, has been performing exceptionally well.
He noted that while Guyana has over the years established anti-money legislation which addresses forfeiture of assets based on conviction for certain offences, there was never a unit that was dedicated to those types of investigations.
“We started with SOCU; it is still a very small unit, but it has made tremendous leaps in that area, working with local and foreign partners. There have been several money seizures and there are several cases before the courts,” the Commissioner stated. He however explained that prosecution in this area has not been a smooth ride; in fact it has been one of the most undulating.
Persaud said that the Force has begun to see whole new amazing set of dynamics, within and outside of the justice sector.
“But there is experience as we go, and we are learning. And the persons that we interact with, and the different components of the justice sector that we operate with, are working with us to iron out those spikes,” the Commissioner said.
This year the Force has had to deal with a change of political administration for the first time in two decades, and with that came a slight shift in focus.
Earlier this year, at the Annual Police Officers’ Conference, the Force was charged to implement a 10-point strategy to deal with crime by then President Donald Ramotar.
A few months later, newly-elected President, David Granger, unveiled a five-point strategy which contained some of the basic inputs of the previous plan.
According to the Commissioner, under the new plan, the Force has seen an increase in manpower and training in the Criminal Investigations Department, both detective-type as well as crime intelligence-type training.
It is in this area that the force has seen the most dividends.
“…so today, you see in the newspapers a high-profile crime reported and shortly thereafter, perpetrators are being arrested and charged,” the Top Cop stated.
This was reflected in the number of detectives who were publicly awarded for their work throughout the year. In fact, except for in two instances, all the Divisional/Department Best Cops were ranks attached to the Criminal Investigations Department.
Also coming out of the five-point plan was the increased deployment of ranks in the police Interior Division, which has been one of the most troublesome areas to police as a result of its vastness and the amount of new financial investments there.
Lethem now has a Mounted Unit, and according to Persaud, there is likely to be an increase in security along that area at the border with Brazil.
“That area according to our intelligence report has been very active in the area of smuggling…so we are seeing new air and land movements that have been seen there for a while,” the Commissioner stated.
There are also increased patrols, which are being bolstered by the recently launched “Operation Dragnet”
The Commissioner praised the initiative which he credits with the improved response to crime in progress. Since the launch of the operation, 40 persons have been arrested and charged with serious crimes, including murders. Wanted persons were also caught in the dragnet.
The operation has also seen the seizure of 12 illegal firearms and 132 rounds of live ammunition.
Persaud also spoke about the traffic situation which has seen a decrease in terms of road fatalities, but an increase in the number of cases made. And he did not forget to mention the partnerships that the force has formed with several civil society groups, such as the ‘Cops and Faith’ initiative, which has been a tremendous social crime prevention success.
The Commissioner is very optimistic for the success of the Force in the coming year, with the addition of 1,200 more ranks and new Community Policing Groups.
In concluding, he thanked his ranks and all other stakeholders in the security sector for the support they have given to the force. But while urging all to enjoy the festive season, he warned that persons should not over-indulge and become unprofessional, since “Operation Dragnet” will catch you.
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