Recent newspaper reports indicate that as Guyana heads towards election, meanwhile safeguarding her oil spoil, behaviour eerily reminiscent of the crime wave era continues unabated.
At the risk of sounding almost hopelessly moronic, the question is again posed:”what is behind this upsurge in crime especially among the youths?” There is no denying that the youths hold aggressive attitudes and display extremely violent behaviours towards others.
Needless to say, we have run the gamut of blame from the sublime to the utterly ridiculous. Fingers (all ten), have been pointed. Additionally, so many people have proffered advice, solutions, panaceas, and yet the senseless attacks and killings continue. Yet the status remains unchanged, the wound continues to fester.
On November 24, 2017, Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, joined with Community Policing Groups all across Guyana to observe 41 years of the patrol’s presence in communities. Established in 1976, under the late Commissioner of Police Henry Fraser, Community Policing was formerly known as Crime Prevention Committees, later evolving into what is known today as Community Policing Groups, which currently boasts of about 4,000-plus members.
It is at this point that the math becomes somewhat fuzzy. Pray tell, or at best educate or elucidate— With so many supplementary eyes and arms of the law, to what is the crime increase and uncaught perpetrators attributable? By what means is the public made aware of the activities, successes, etc. of the various Community Policing Groups operating throughout the land? What set of measures, (hard data, community surveys etc.) are being used to assess the efficacy of the group?
On November 3, 2019, Commissioner of Police Leslie James welcomed 86 new constables into its ranks. The Guyana Police Force had hitherto on May 1, 2019 been boosted with 151 new officers. The new recruits were trained in six courses at the Felix Austin Police College, Georgetown, the Felix Austin Police College, Adventure, Berbice, and the Richard Austin Police College, Essequibo Coast. This combined total of graduates will be supplementary to the already existing 4,000 members of the CPG. Better translated or correctly spoken, would an increase in crime fighting personnel be equal to diminished crime?
Research the world over has shown that community policing is effective in reducing crime and increasing public safety. However, policing a community and talking to its residents is not nearly enough. A critical element of community policing is problem solving. The members of the group should also be proactive and creative not only in addressing, but in preventing, problems.
It has been stated that community residents are not enjoying harmonious relationships with the ranks. A pervading attitude of deep mistrust exists, and justifiably so, due to the proven behaviour of certain rogue members of the ranks. In no way is such an atmosphere conducive to the betterment of the community or the nation as a whole. Of course, this is applicable only to the specific community/communities where it exists. Building relationships that are cordial helps us all in the long run. Young people develop a positive image of the police, and police are safer when they are known and respected. Another distinguishing feature of community policing is that it emphasizes pro-activity rather than just reactivity. The focus on preventing crime would be solving problems by getting to the underlying root cause.
In the case of serious incidents such as a homicide or vehicular manslaughter–What part does the community policing group play, post incident? Is there collaborative work with the ranks? Does any communication take place within the community? With the residents? Is social media used to humanize the public image of members of the community policing group?
It would be foolhardy at best to think that the crime rate would suddenly fall to jaw-dropping or eye-popping levels. Implementing community policing is an incremental and long-term process. Political and community leaders must be regularly informed of the progress of community policing efforts to keep them interested and involved. This cooperation is indispensable to deterring crime and revitalizing our neighborhoods
Notwithstanding, the continued enlivened application of community policing techniques, firmly supported by the principles of ethical policing., would produce a noteworthy correlation between the collaborative relationship that will be fostered, and a palatable decline in crime.
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