It houses high-profile suspects from Georgetown to the Soezdyke/Linden Highway, but the Golden Grove Police Station is far from being a secure location for the detention of inmates.
The metal fence has collapsed, the compound is overrun with thick vegetation, there are no security lights around its perimeter, and ranks conduct their duties by lamplight when there is a power failure, since there is no generator.
The lack of these basic facilities makes ranks working at this location, and even residents living close-by, vulnerable in the event of a breakout by inmates.
Due to prolonged repairs at the Brickdam Police Station, prisoners from A Division (Georgetown to the East Bank of Demerara ) are being housed at the location. Kaieteur News understands that the station, which was opened in 2007, sometimes has as many as 40 prisoners. They often include suspects for serious offences, including robbery under arms and murder.
According to one official, the Golden Grove Police Station lockups were constructed with the intention of housing individuals from nearby communities who were being detained for minor offences.
“It was never intended for that purpose (holding of high-profile suspects) It was built to deal with normal prisoners who were held in the community.”
Police officials have said that there have been plans, since the previous administration, for extensive repairs at the Golden Grove Police Station, including the construction of a Magistrates’ Court. In the meantime, the station is a high-risk location.
Kaieteur News understands that contractors recently visited the location and indications are that works will begin soon.
During recent visits to the station, Kaieteur News observed that the metal fence has collapsed, resulting in stray cattle wandering in and out of the large, bushy compound. Kaieteur News also observed ranks doing paperwork by candle-light during a power outage. There are also no security lights.
Some sources have said that with the absence of a security fence, individuals could easily secrete themselves in the compound and attack ranks on the location. Prisoners could also easily slip out of the compound.
Once they escape and flee the compound, prisoners have many nearby getaway points, including Kaneville and vast backlands.
It was just over a year ago that ranks at the facility barely thwarted a massive breakout.
Sometime during the early hours of May 3, 2015, some of the prisoners began to bang on one of the cell doors. The ranks on duty had no idea that they were causing the ruckus to divert attention from the fact that some other inmates were smashing through a wall at the northern side of the station.
Fortunately, one of the ranks went to use the station washroom and heard strange noises in the area. Suspecting what was amiss, the rank alerted his colleagues. On investigating, they discovered that the prisoners had already smashed a gaping hole in the wall, in the vicinity of the area where inmates are taken to have their baths.
At the time, several prisoners were being held at the station, including three suspects in a recent armed robbery.
Late last April, a group of high-profile inmates again tested the resolve of ranks at the station.
There were 17 prisoners in the lockups that day. They included alleged ‘hit man’ Linden Lewis (now charged with the murder of businessman Habiboodeen), and robbery suspects Godfrey Lynch and Travis Alexander. At around 06.30hrs, the ranks escorted Lewis, Lynch, Alexander and a fourth prisoner from their cells to allow them to use the washroom.
But police said that after relieving themselves, the prisoners refused to return to their cells unless they were given cigarettes.
They reportedly attempted to overpower the ranks who had taken them to the washroom, and the policemen were forced to retreat, leaving the inmates locked in a passageway. The policemen then radioed for back-up.
But when the other ranks arrived, one of the prisoners began throwing feces at the policemen. The same inmate allegedly then placed his jersey on a security camera in the passageway. He then used a lighter, which he may have secreted in his rectum, to set the jersey alight, thus damaging the camera. The prisoner then set one of the wooden doors of the lockup on fire.
The ranks summoned additional manpower, and, with the aid of ranks from the Guyana Fire Service, were able to extinguish the fires and put the prisoners back in their cell.
Some police ranks feel that inmates around the country have been emboldened by the sympathy they have received following the Georgetown Prison riot which claimed 17 lives.
Others have suggested that prisoners are aware that policemen are being now cautioned to use minimum force.
“Due to that Timehri baton story, we are even cautious about searching prisoners, in case they make allegations against us,” one source said.
“They getting this spunk, because of certain restrictions with use of minimum force. But a prisoner will always want his freedom, and we have to stand firm or we will be mashed.
“You cannot take away the use of force against prisoners. You want to ‘pet up’ a prisoner, and he would get away and you had a job.”
Meanwhile, it is unclear when rehabilitative works at the Brickdam Police Station lockups will be completed.
Kaieteur News had reported in October, 2009, that works had begun and that more than $20 M earmarked for the project.
Kaieteur News also reported that each cell will have its own ablution area and inmates will benefit from a hot and cold vaporised bath system.
This newspaper was informed that the rehabilitation project is expected to be completed by December, 2009, or in early 2010, as the contractor still had to paint and grill the facility which usually houses about 50 inmates at a time.
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