by Kurt Campbell
The role of Community Policing Groups came in to sharp focus at the opening of the Annual Police Officers Conference on Thursday morning.
In his first address to the Annual Police Officers’ Conference, President David Granger called on the Guyana Police Force to do more to ensure that citizens’ safety within their communities is protected.
The President said it is the hope of his government that the Police will ensure that their operations guarantee safety for the country’s most vulnerable citizens, including the elderly, women and children.
He told the gathering of Police officers, Government ministers and legal luminaries that he is personally disturbed with the reports of crime within communities across the country, particularly those that are perpetuated against the elderly and women.
“The protection of citizens in communities must be of foremost concern for the police. Safe communities are necessary if we are to realize the good life,” he said.
Mr. Granger said the Police Force’s principal objective, as stated in the Constitution, is to ensure the safety of citizens. “The Force must fulfill its obligation within the constitution.”
He went on to explain that in so doing the police must not ignore the causes of crime and must examine same if they are to conduct effective crime prevention and solving.
“There must be a new approach that not only suppresses but addresses that causes of crime,” he added. He said too that a collaborative approach must be adopted to ensure human safety is realized.
He singled out the Community Policing Groups across the country and told the conference that while he believes CPGs are for the common good, they must support and not supplant the Police Force.
He said Community Policing Groups must not be seen as a separate or parallel organization to the Force and must be brought into the full ambit of the law. “It must not remain lawless or an outlaw,” he added.
Community Police Groups were established by the previous People’s Progressive Party government with the intent to support police operations at the community level. However, the groups appeared to have been controlled to a large extent by the then Minister of Home Affairs. In some cases, under the last administration, the policing groups were provided with more resources than the Police Force itself.
President Granger said his government will ensure that Community Policing Groups do not become a victim of political policing and said there must be change in the way things are being done presently.
He urged Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud to take full responsibility for the reform to occur and the operations of Community Policing Groups in the future.