— President Ali emphasises is key to maintaining security across the country
WITH Guyana firmly en route to prosperity, the government will be modernising and specialising its approach to fighting crimes and maintaining security across the country. This is according to President, Dr. Irfaan Ali, who emphasised the importance of having specialised regional crime-fighting units established across the country. “A more prosperous country becomes a target for more sophisticated criminals,” Dr. Ali recognised.
The Head of State related that the specialised regional outfits are intended to have a “multifaceted menu” of skillsets, capable of effectively and rapidly responding to a variety of situations. Dr. Ali pointed specifically to inclusion of civilians, officers trained in Special Forces, and ranks from Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) as members of the regional outfits.
“Because, in dealing with these criminals and criminal type activity, a variation of skills is required and that skills would be merged into one unit so that you can have quick reaction, quick understanding from a multidimensional approach to crime-fighting,” President Ali said in his address to those present at a handing over ceremony for several computers donated to the Region Four Police Headquarters at Cove and John, East Coast Demerara. The equipment was donated by the Jay and Sylvia Sobhraj Foundation.
In expressing appreciation to Mr. and Mrs. Sobhraj for the donation, the Head of State said that it was such partnerships that help to solidify the country’s regionalisation efforts. He said, “The best way to fight crime is to have as much people on your side as possible.”
President Ali also underscored the importance of the private sector in tackling crime and security-related issues in the country. “We throw out the challenge to the private sector that the government is willing to give duty-free concessions on vehicles, and the Police Force is willing to put people in those vehicles to do 24-hour surveillance,” Dr. Ali noted.
He said that so far, only one business entity has taken up the offer to provide monitoring of areas in the vicinity of Kingston, Main Street and Carmichael Street, Georgetown.
The Head of State related that the partnership with the private sector has to be one that takes the Guyana Police Force to the people, and expose the institution beyond its current narrow definition of crime-fighting.
In admitting that the Guyana Police Force is victim of negative perceptions, Dr. Ali emphasised the importance of creating an environment where police officers are able to work alongside members of the communities they serve, in an effort to create positive linkages that can add to the overall development and security of the various regions.
“If we can train the police officers as trainers in computer science and technology, and then have those officers go and volunteer an hour every week in a school to impart that training on students…so when you go out into the schools, you create a different mindset; people see the Police Force beyond the narrow definition of crime-fighting,” the President posited.
He acknowledged that the Guyana Police Force has many properly qualified persons who have obtained solid tertiary qualifications in various fields such as Information Technology, Management and Sociology, etcetera.
But the President explained that the integration of police officers into the communities adds to the government’s efforts of regionalisation, which has been an important component of the country’s security strategy for the past decade. “What is different now is that we are putting a lot of resources into this regionalisation,” Dr. Ali indicated.
The Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces also underscored the importance of utilising technology to foster intelligence gathering and improve the overall efficiency of the Guyana Police Force. “We ourselves are now working on the expansion of the ‘Smart City’ programme…to aid crime-fighting,” Dr. Ali said. He said that the donations from the Sobhraj Foundation of the Zara Group of Companies, will help the force to strengthen its technological capacity.
MODERN AND INNOVATIVE APPROACH
Similar sentiments were shared by Home Affairs Minister, Robeson Benn, who expressed the administration’s commitment to ensuring a more modern and innovative approach to crime-fighting in Guyana.
“We have retained some attention to issues in relation to developing software…having software which can be used across the country, across divisions, to have almost instantaneous reaction, information, and response to criminal activity,” minister Benn said. Outside of technology, the Home Affairs Minister stressed the need for police officers to also be more empathetic in their dealings with both victims and perpetrators of crimes.
Also delivering remarks at the handing over ceremony was Commissioner of Police (ag.), Nigel Hoppie, who said that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) remain an integral part of the police force’s operations, particularly at the level of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID).
He related that shortly after 2010, the Sobhraj Foundation has been providing important support to the Guyana Police Force, especially as it relates to the development of its ICT capacity.
Over the years, the foundation’s collaboration with the Police Force has seen at least 13,626 persons being trained at four computer training centres established around the country; of that figure, 2,834 trainees were members of the GPF, while 10,792 of the beneficiaries were civilians.
The Cove and John Police Station will now be added as the fifth ICT centre to benefit from support given by the Sobhraj Foundation.
Sylvia Sobhraj in her brief remarks said that the Cove and John centre is of particular importance to her, since it is her way of giving back to a community that helped to raise her. She expressed her Foundation’s commitment to providing continuous support to Guyana and its people.
Nonetheless, in going forward, President Ali said that the mission to develop the Guyana Police Force rests on the three ‘E’s – equip, evolve and emerge.