Firearm management module fitted for Security Ministry, despite Police Commissioner’s objection

Last Updated on Monday, 11 April 2016, 21:54 by Denis Chabrol

Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan; Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud viewing a number of illegal firearms that had been surrendered during a gun amnesty last year.

Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan; Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud viewing a number of illegal firearms that had been surrendered during a gun amnesty last year.

The Public Security Ministry has accepted a firearm management module, despite strong objection by Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud on grounds that there is still outstanding work on the software to link several other databases.

The computer module was constructed to aid with proper gun management that allow the immediate verification of a legal or illegal firearm.

However, a well- placed police source speaking on anonymity said the idea is not sitting well with the Police Commissioner since he has “fought” its implementation, “claiming that it is not a priority and it is not needed at this time.”

Commissioner Persaud confirmed to Demerara Waves Online News that “to operationalise it several police officers will have to receive computers and that higher in the priority for the police is the Inter-Agency module that would see several databases linked. After about five years of implementation, it is not completed.”

Demerara Waves was told by the security personnel that the force had hired Lance Hinds’ Information Technology (IT) company, Brain Street, to design and build an Integrated Crime Information System that allowes for various types of crime related information to be accessed by the various security agencies. The inter-agency system is said to include 19 separate modules covering areas such as complaints and reports, fire investigations and traffic among others.

It was related, however, by the sources that the crime information management system included a special ‘firearm management system.’ Among other things, it was said to help the agencies easily determine whether a gun is illegal or not. “If a gun is seized, checks would be made to the database of registered firearm holders for a match. It would even state whether a firearm holder reported his weapon lost or stolen.”

“Now that is the difficulty we are having because the Commissioner is fighting to say that this is not a priority and we should not worry about that now,” the senior police source reported.

He said too, that initially the acquisition of a firearm license required an individual to apply to the Police Commissioner who would later forward the application to the Divisional Commander of the specific area before the necessary checks are made. The Firearm Licensing Board would recommend before going back to the Commissioner. It was stated however that at one point there was no licensing board and even when it existed the gun application process was still not followed.

However the amended Firearm Act, as it was explained, effectively lessens the power of the Police Commissioner giving the licensing board greater activism in the gun assigning process.

However, “If the firearm management system is not implemented it would remain difficult to ascertain illegal guns in a timely manner, and it would also prevent a paper trail of how a gun owner would have received a legal firearm without going through the entire process.”

“This is a very comprehensive system,” the source said. “It was built in five years and members of the force were dispatched to decide the specifications of the program.”

Recently, Commissioner Persaud was quoted on the news site as confirming his belief that the civilian-staffed Strategic Management Department (SMD) had outlived its purposes. He said former Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee, under whose tenure the SMD was launched, did not understand the agency’s role. However the Commissioner’s statement comes at a time when other security agencies are expanding their civilian oversight and management arms.

Some stakeholders see the Commissioner’s moves as him trying to get a firmer grip on the force, given their belief that he “enjoys the confidence” of Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan. The senior police source said, “The (Public Security) Ministry will have to know what they are doing if they do not push for a stronger hand on him (Commissioner).”

(by Zena Henry).