Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee yesterday said that the in-the-works Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team would not be used as a “political tool” for the administration’s gains but would increase security for citizens.
He gave this assurance at the launch of the SWAT training programme for 27 police recruits, at the Police Officers Training Centre on Camp Street.
The training programme began yesterday with Senior Superintendent Paul Williams leading as the Force Training Officer. The officers are anticipating 12 months of rigorous training in response to emergency high risk situations.
The 27 trainees are: Assistant Superintendents Lonsdale Withrite and Motie Dookie; Cadet Officers James Tappin, Amit Kumar Das and Rovin Das; Sergeants Marx Wilson, Joseph Grant, Relando Sandy, Corporal Kwesi Lawrence , Emswhi Gordon and Ryan Leacock; Constables Dennis Ragnauth , Alec Ally, Ronell Chapman , Aiden Dennan, Anthio Wallace, Andel Smith, Trevor Edmonds, Erwin Scott, Guy Williams, Kevin Thompson, Delon Sheckle, Asapha Easton, Yuri Bourne Navindra Jodhan, O’ Neil Walcott and Special Constable Trevor Grenville.
In the face of public skepticism about the need for a SWAT unit, Rohee said its establishment would be a positive development for the security sector, since citizens would be the beneficiaries of a higher level of security.
“I’m not a security expert….but I do know that the literature that I have read on these matters shows the benefits,” he declared.
He, however, stated that the ministry and government were not comfortable with the current crime rate and that it must be lowered. “The force is not moving backward with the establishment of the SWAT team, it is moving forward,” he said. He further stated that it was not created to suppress citizens and members of the opposition party.
Opposition Leader Brigadier (rtd) David Granger, who once served as a national security adviser, recently told Stabroek News that none of the country’s major security threats demand a response by SWAT units. “I think a SWAT unit could be more effectively deployed when there is extensive gang warfare or a counter insurgency situation where there might be large gangs in particular areas of operation, holding people hostage,” he noted, saying that in such situations there would be a need for a major operation by a SWAT Unit. These types of situations in Guyana are relatively rare, Granger also observed.
Granger also said that the experience with “special units in Guyana” has been very painful and thinks that great care must be exercised in their creation because of the tendency for political interference and the tendency of the police administration to send low performing policemen to these units
Meanwhile, Commis-sioner of Police Leroy Brumell yesterday said the government saw the training of a SWAT team as pivotal. He echoed the statement of Rohee, saying that a SWAT team is vital in the management of random high risk situations. “SWAT establishes strong training attendance standards, addressing civil and state emerging issues, such as hostage rescue, resolving high risk situation… and suppressing acts of terrorism,” he noted.
He encouraged the trainees to make the police force proud.
Delivering remarks at the launch, Director of US consulting firm The Emergence Group (TEG) Dennis Hays also stated that the unit would a valuable asset to Guyana. He said countries with an organized, trained force that can act in emergency situations have a much better protected society and lower crime rates.