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SWAT team will be different from other police squads

Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee and at his right, Director of ‘The Emergence Group’ Ambassador Dennis Hays during the signing of the contract to establish the SWAT Unit

Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee on Tuesday assured that the SWAT team expected to be established by next year August would not be like other police squads that had been notorious for human rights violations.

“Now we are moving to set up a professional, best practice established SWAT team according to international standards as we understand them so I don’t think that the establishment of the SWAT team ought to be prejudged on the basis of the antecedents that were there before,” said Rohee.

He was speaking at the signing of a contract between the Guyana government and the Washington DC, United States-based The Emergence Group (TEG) to establish a SWAT unit in the Guyana Police Force.

Other police groups that had been allegedly involved in brutality, extortion, bribery and private enforcement included the Target Special Squad, Quick Reaction Group, Impact Squad and the Tactical Services Unit (TSU).

Acknowledging that the idea of the proposed unit was welcomed and criticized by sections of the society, the Home Affairs Minister urged Guyanese to give the “professionally trained” group a chance to function and deliver its service.

TEG Director, Dennis K. Hays explained that while a SWAT team could respond vigorously in difficult circumstances, the ultimate aim is always to use minimum violence. “The end-goal here, off course, is to have a capability that the Commissioner can pull upon when needed to deal with a difficult situation and he will know that he has officers who have the training, who have the temperament and who have the expertise to apply a critical judgment in a difficult situation to ensure that there is a resolution which is obtained at the lowest possible level of violence,” he told reporters.

Hays said TEG would assist in identifying suitable members of the SWAT team but the final decision would rest with the government. “There will be a vetting process for the candidates coming through. The choice, the decision rests with the police, the government off course but we have a lot of experience in this area and would be happy to provide any guidance that is provided,” he said.

The TEG Director said his organisation would soon dispatch a team to assess the police force’s capabilities including its equipment and skills to develop a Guyana-specific programme. The components would include training, mentoring and exercises to develop a component of the police force which will be better equipped and better prepared to deal with serious issues.

The Guyana government would determine whether the members of the SWAT team would be drawn from across the Disciplined Services.