Former police commissioner Winston Felix says there was no way ranks in Corentyne, Berbice could have been involved in an armed robbery as is being claimed as the only working vehicle they had at the time was at the No. 51 station where a vehicular accident was being investigated.
Felix, while describing the situation in Berbice as “one big mess”, said too that the ranks in this area lack the basic resources but are still expected to perform their duties efficiently.
Several attempts on Saturday to contact Police Commissioner Leroy Brumell for an update on the robbery allegation and the apparent lack of resources in that section of Berbice were futile.
Felix made these statements in wake of the recent incident where all the ranks from the No. 51 Police Station were transferred after residents accused them of being involved in an armed robbery at Number 48 Village two Sundays ago. Residents had claimed that the police car– an AT 192 Toyota Carina, PJJ 6872 with “siren lights” at the top – that the police arrived in later to investigate the robbery was used to transport the bandits. According to them, during the robbery the car was driving slowly on the road without lights.
However Felix, who is now the shadow Home Affairs Minister for APNU had a different version of events and said that an investigation would have found that the police vehicle was nowhere close to Number 48 Village when the armed robbery occurred.
He explained that the police on the Corentyne have one “old vehicle” that is based at Number 62 and which according to one resident is only working at 30% of its capacity. Felix, who took a trip to the area to get a firsthand look at the situation after the allegations surfaced and the residents protested, said that there is no vehicle at Springlands, a main area in the Upper Corentyne. He added too that here is no vehicle at Number 51.
He explained that based on what the residents told him, in the night the police at Number 51 would call Number 62 where an outpost is located for the white police car with nonfunctional flashing lights to do their regular patrols. According to Felix, this vehicle is tasked with patrolling between Number 51 and Number 45 villages.
Felix said that according to what he had gathered the ranks were on patrol last Sunday night when they came upon an accident scene somewhere along the patrol route. As a result of the accident he said that they went to the Number 51 Police Station and while there they got a call about the robbery at Number 48 village. He said that the ranks left their post and travelled to the scene “as soon as practically possible after they got the information”. He said that as soon as the four ranks arrived at the scene, the residents began to accuse the police of being involved in the robbery.
“My understanding is that not even the victim told the police about any police rank or any white car. That is the residents. Those people were out of control. They stopped the police, literally preventing them from investigating the crime and accused them”, he said noting that during the meeting with the commissioner of police about three persons stood up and said that the police were not involved in the robbery. He said that he had not seen this bit of information reported anywhere in the media. Felix said that he was moved to make comments on the matter since he was once stationed in Berbice and knows what ranks there have to endure.
“The police is heavily starved of resources by this government. Why the government does not have vehicles allocated to the police at the main stations in Berbice?” he asked noting that one should not expect top performance from a police force that is starved of resources.
He said that in spite of these shortfalls the police continue to work. “On top of all of that the entire station is being accused of armed robbery”, he said.
Felix said too that there are three vehicles in good condition in the possession of persons who are being paid as much as $30, 000 per month to do nothing with them. He questioned why these vehicles are not given to the police so that they can adequately patrol the Corentyne area.
“The public security situation in the country is not well served with Mr. Clement Rohee’s continued blunderings as Minister of Home Affairs. Instead of transferring ranks wrongfully accused of committing crime, he should do this country good service by demitting office”, he charged.
Reports are that on Sunday night four masked bandits invaded the home and shop belonging to Vimlawatie ‘Dato’ Ramdeen and her husband, Lilman Ramdeen.The bandits beat the Ramdeens, fired several shots to apparently scare persons away and carted off about $600,000 in cash, jewellery and cell phone cards. Residents said the same car – an AT 192 Toyota Carina, PJJ 6872 with “siren lights” at the top – that the police arrived in later to investigate the robbery was used to transport the bandits. According to them, during the robbery the car was driving slowly on the road without lights.
Agitated, residents who had gathered at the scene prevented the police from moving the car and also blocked the road, disrupting traffic.
Brumell met with residents last week and after announcing the transfer of the ranks listened to their concerns.