COMMANDER of ‘A’ Division Assistant Commissioner of Police Clifton Hicken and National Coordinator of Community Policing Groups (CPGs), Mr. Dennis Pompey on Wednesday last held discussions with members of CPGs along the East Bank of Demerara, focusing on the new approach taken by the Ministry of Public Security on the way forward.
At the meeting were several groups from the East Bank corridor and the Soesdyke-Linden Highway who were to meet with Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan, but he had to be engaged in pressing matters at the Ministry of the Presidency.
The group members made an urgent appeal for training in the use of firearms, issuance of firearms and uniforms, among other issues.
At the meeting there were also calls for the police to cooperate a little more with the groups in their station districts and be more open to calling on the CPGs for assistance, rather than bypassing them and requesting support and back-up from other stations outside of the communities.
Some members also raised the issue of monies owed them for working during the national elections period but according to Commander Hicken, payment of the monies has already started and the process is ongoing.
Meanwhile, the issue that really caused much debate was the decision of the Ministry of Public Security to transfer vehicles that had been earmarked for the CPGs to the Guyana Police Force.
However, Pompey reminded the CPG members that the Ministry of Public Security is responsible for domestic security which includes the Guyana Police Force, Guyana Fire Service and Guyana Prison Service as well as the Community Policing Groups. He also explained that the vehicles which the minister has transferred to the police were bought under the name of the then Ministry of Home Affairs and so they could have been issued to any arm of the ministry, which is nothing illegal. He added that from all indications, the minister had seen the need of the police force to be more equipped and decided on such a course of action.
Recommendations were also made by representatives of the groups for a system that would allow vehicles assigned to the CPGs to undergo mechanical repairs through the Guyana Police Force. The issue of fuel for the vehicles was also raised as members lamented being asked to meet refuelling expenses on their own, while assisting the police in crime- fighting.
A recommendation was also made for police to work out a system whereby the CPG members who are not otherwise employed would be utilised more by the police, especially in the area of taking statements and doing clerical work at police stations, while the ranks focus more on actual police work.
The issue of uniforms for the groups was also raised but, according to Pompey, there needs to be a better system with respect to issuing uniforms and strict accountability.
He recalled that in the past, uniforms had been issued to persons who were not making themselves available to patrol with the police, while others used the uniforms only to be associated with the CPGs but did not work for the organisation.
He spoke also of a case in which a man was arrested some time ago for stabbing another. The suspect in that matter was at the time wearing a CPG jersey which he had received from a relative, who was a CPG member.
Commander Hicken told the gathering that while they were unable to meet the minister due to his other pressing engagements, they should use the opportunity to regroup.
He also urged them to be on the lookout for strangers in their communities and prevent such persons from committing illegal acts.
Hicken said further that the CPG groups are now being revamped and some membership cards will be revoked since there is evidence that some persons are using the privileges to settle scores with others and that reflects badly on the police force.
Also at the meeting last Wednesday were the various sub- divisional officers from the East Bank of Demerara and members of the various station management committees, as well as Station Sergeants.