by Gary Eleazar
The 166 Community Policing Groups across the country, in December last year conducted some 30,000 vehicular, motorcycle and other type patrols and arrested a total of 89 persons but Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, believes monies invested in the organization is monies well spent at this stage.
With a staffing strength of 4,347 persons—rivaling the staffing strength of the Guyana Police Force which stands at 4,798—Ramjattan, today (April 5, 2017) defended the monies injected in the organization, as he announced plans to mark the entity’s 41st Anniversary.
Questioned by Demerara Waves on justifying moneys plugged into the 4,347 strong supplementary force, with 30,000 patrols with 89 arrests in one year, Minister Ramjattan said, “certainly, because notwithstanding the low amount of arrests 89, I feel that there is a tremendous preventative attribute in relation to the patrols that have been carried out.”
He observed that areas where CPG exists and conduct nightly patrols are among those communities with the lowest crime rates in the country.
During the period January to December, 2016 the CPGs conducted 15, 918 vehicular patrols, 5, 729 motor cycle patrols, 1, 521 bicycle patrols, 1, 427 foot patrols, 857 boat patrols and 254 ATV patrols.
“The fact patrols are on the streets at night in areas that have active CPGs is where the crime rates are very low quite frankly,” according to Ramjattan.
The Minister said he believes the regular patrols by the CPGs have in fact served as deterrent to the ‘Bad Johns.’
According to Ramjattan, “it is necessary, it is monies in my view at this stage well spent but of course we can do better.”
Defending the organization further, Minister Ramjattan sought to make the point Guyana has become an extremely angry society towards each other, as evidenced in some of the gruesome murders that dominated headlines recently.
According to the Public Security Minister, interpersonal violence in Guyana has reached drastic proportions, and the role of the CPGs as enforcement, in “supplementing the police can go a further way that can help.”
Ramjattan said as Public Security Minister, he is also looking to see the CPGs transition to embracing a more social element, as against taking up a greater enforcement role in executing its mandate of complementing the Police Force.
Inviting more to join up with the CPG’s, Minister Ramjattan said the organization provides a level of solidarity between members of the community and its nearby police station.
He used the occasion to draw reference however, to the need for better training and capacity building within the organization.
Further buffeting his defence of the organization which falls under his substantive portfolio, Ramjattan said it is the members of the CPG groups that can readily identify known troublemakers in communities.“They (CPGs) know who and who, are the Bad Johns.”
Speaking at the conference room of the Ministry of Public Security on Brickdam, he recalled that there has been some training afforded to members of the CPG groups and spoke of recent seminars that had focused on domestic violence, trafficking in persons, conflict and anger management, inter personal violence, first aid, suicide awareness and gender base violence among other categories.
According to Ramjattan, “it is an especially important supplement to the Guyana Police force and they (CPG) are better equipped to be the eyes and ears on the ground within communities,” with regard information that can be provided to the police in order to execute the enforcement.
“They are the ones that know very much at an earlier stage who and who are the bad johns within the community,” Ramjattan said.
He said the members of the group can also be useful in tackling issues of suicide within communities. “Those who are committing domestic violence, those who beat up their wives or beat up their spouses those who would have a tendency of wanting to kill them….the community generally knows.”
According to Ramjattan, if such information can be passed on from community members as part of early detection, then the enforcement arms of the state can be better equipped in their enforcement mandate.
Activities marking the 41 year anniversary of CGG in Guyana includes a traditional route march a spelling bee competition and an interfaith service among other activities.