Total security for ‘big four’
AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan
AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan

By Leroy Smith

OPERATION Dragnet is aimed at flushing out criminals for four big events here within the coming months, Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan has said.

policeIn an exclusive interview with the Guyana Chronicle, last Friday at his Brickdam, Georgetown office, the minister said that among the things taken into consideration were the upcoming major activities in which Guyana is expected to be engaged over the next couple of months.

“This operation evolved out of a process, after realising that we have four major events for the next six months – Christmas, Local Government Elections, Mashramani celebrations, and our Fiftieth Anniversary celebrations,” he explained.

These events, which run right into next year, and more specifically up to May, 2016, are the reason why “Operation Dragnet” is being run from December 01, 2015 to June 2016, the minister explained during the interview.

During these events, Guyana will expectedly see huge numbers of persons transiting, and it is important that those persons be properly protected and feel comfortable. Accordingly, much effort would go into ensuring the security and stability of the country, so there unapologetically will be deployment of all forces under the umbrella of the disciplined forces: Police, Army, Prisons, CANU and the Drug Enforcement Unit.

Minister Ramjattan said a lot of emphasis is also being placed on border controls and involvement of the Ministry of Citizenship in the exercise. He spoke of traffic management, and of tightening up and clamping down on traffic lawlessness that presently obtains. This would be aimed at avoiding deaths, damage to property, and whatever else is a feature of road accidents. There will be no compromise on dealing with those who are bent on disregarding the codes of the road, rich or poor, Ramjattan stressed.

The minister disclosed that maximum deployment of forces would be placed in hotspot areas that the police have been tapping and mapping all the time that crimes have been committed. Those areas will, in a sense, be clinically targeted, he said.

Ramjattan said the government is cognizant that guns are coming into the country through the border, especially the one shared with Brazil, and moves are afoot to send additional border patrols in those areas. The police have already dispatched to those areas personnel from the mounted branch with the necessary resources, and they would be getting additional resources, inclusive of horses to patrol the area.

Housing and other facilities have already been put in place to ensure the comfort and safety of police and their animals working in these hotspot areas.

Ramjattan stressed that since the government came to office, it has been looking at the instances of crime and other developments which have been eating away at the society, and strategies have been worked out to effectively address crime. “Operation Dragnet” was found to be the best way to tackle those issues, as it encompasses practically everything, Ramjattan stressed.

Ramjattan said he has already spoken with the police hierarchy on how crime can be addressed. He said other units would have to be resuscitated and police ranks who are in office for most of the day would be called out to support “Operation Dragnet”.

Minister Ramjattan said there is need for the police to display increased presence in Georgetown. Based on what he was told, and looking at the figures which were provided to him, Georgetown accounts for 56% of the crimes that are committed nationwide, so increased police presence is necessary in the city. He said it is firm police opinion that Georgetown will continue to record high levels of criminal activity outside the other police divisions, because of the high level of economic activities which take place in the city.

Role of the GDF
The Guyana Defence Force is also expected to play a very big role in “Operation Dragnet”, and its personnel would be even more visible in areas outside of Georgetown. They would be ready to support the work of the police, if that becomes necessary. Ramjattan said the army would be involved primarily in border patrol and surveillance activities that could lead to the detection of unauthorized access to Guyana’s airspace, and they would be countering the suspected high level of narcotics-related activities which take place in far-flung areas. Among those activities are the dropping-off of drugs by planes which either fly over and/or land at interior airstrips without permission from, or knowledge of, the relevant authorities.

Ramjattan said the army’s presence in those areas would have to be more visible, since the police do not go to those areas as much as they do to areas on the coast, but he said residents should not be too alarmed at the GDF presence in those areas.

He also spoke of the role that the Coast Guard is expected to play in Operation Dragnet. “The Coast Guards are also going to be involved in a big way, ensuring that there is proper surveillance and, again, restricting anti-piracy activities on the part of those who feel that they can do that kind of mischief in our riverine areas,” he disclosed.

The GDF will be supported by the GPF, which is looking to strengthen its marine wing so that its boats can be employed in security runs, especially in the creeks and other communities which are accessed primarily by boat. The Public Security Minister said government is very confident that in terms of employment and deployment of so much resources and manpower, Operation Dragnet will snare all those who might want to intensify their mischief, robberies, attacks, and probably terrorist activities during the afore-mentioned significant and symbolic national moments.

Minister Ramjattan said that, based on research and evidence, it is known that bandits strike most often during grand celebrations, or even small celebrations. Those moments are when persons are at their most vulnerable, because they are in celebratory mode. They tend to care less about their security and usually relax their vigilance. That is why the nation and the security forces need to be alert during those moments of great celebration, hence the decision to redouble efforts in the area of the nation’s security posture.


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