Despite violent displays at bars, including some with fatal consequences, some bar owners say that the costs of security for them and their customers is just too high.
Stabroek News spoke with two bar owners and they both said it would be too costly and the expense associated will far exceed what they can afford.
One bar owner said that she is fully behind installing security cameras. She said that this can capture patrons’ every move and if prosecution is necessary, the footage can be used as evidence. The businesswoman pointed out that very often when patrons become intoxicated, they get violent but very often there is nothing much that the bar owners can do. “The most we can do is try and put them out. But what happens when you got a setta drunk men,” the businesswoman said, while explaining that sometime there are fights at her bar during which tables and chairs get broken. She said that this is added expense for her as she is the one who has to replace them.
Another bar owner said that he would not look in the direction of security as it is too costly. If cameras have to be set up that too will cost money. He said that one has to realise that some bars don’t generate enough income to cover additional costs, such as a security guard. It was noted too that with so many bars around, business has not been that bright.
Meanwhile, a security source said that security should always be an issue for not only bar owners but business persons on the whole, although he recognised the added expense that it would pose.
A security guard, the source said, can be on the ground to break up fights and to ensure that there is order. Stabroek News was told of a city bar which has several security guards in its employ. The source said that while being present at this location, on a number of occasions he has seen security guards removing persons behaving disorderly.
But the source added that using guards could raise concerns about whether they should be armed. According to the source, having armed guards may not be a wise idea because a patron could get hold of the firearm.
Cameras, the source noted, may also be useful in terms of prosecuting people. They will also be a onetime expense as opposed to having to pay security guards every month.
Pointing to a previous murder case, the source said that had cameras been installed at a city bar, there could have been additional footage to ensure that persons responsible were prosecuted. The killing took place a stone’s throw away from the business. “If that bar had cameras then we would have had more footage to look at,” the source said, while adding that in addition to recording incidents, cameras would be useful for the bar owners themselves.
“It is not only about their security but also that of their patrons,” the source said, while pointing out that technology must be used properly. It was explained that it makes no sense for cameras to be installed but were not functioning or not properly placed. “Incidents must be properly recorded,” it was stressed.
The source went as far as to suggest that the installation of cameras should be a prerequisite for the granting of licences to bar owners. If, for example, a crime is committed at the establishment and it is found that it doesn’t have cameras installed or they are not functioning, then that bar owner should face the appropriate penalty, the source suggested.
Last week, a barwoman was shot dead at her place of work. Police had said that Jagwandai Ramnauth, 46, who was known as ‘Selena,’ was shot to the head during a dispute with patrons at the Country Club Bar at Chateau Margot, East Coast Demerara on Wednesday night.
One of the men, police said, pulled out a firearm and fatally shot her to the head, after which they escaped. Two persons, the owner and a woman, were arrested after but were released on Saturday. Crime Chief Leslie James said the investigators were pursuing other persons who are suspected to have been a part of the crime. James also stated that a previous “transaction” may have been behind the killing.
In January, three men were injured during a shooting in the Ghetto Flex Bar at James and Albouys streets, Albouystown.
According to police, at around 1:45am Andy Bharrat, 39, of Albouys Street, Albouystown, be-came involved in an argument with a group of men at the bar. During the argument, the men pulled out firearms and discharged several rounds that resulted in Bharrat being injured to his back.
Nikita Glasgow, 28, of 687 East Ruimveldt Housing Scheme and Courtney Sandy, 28, of Light and Charlotte streets, Georgetown, were hit during the shooting.
In September, 2013, an Essequibo businesswoman, Shelliza Lall was shot dead and three others were injured following a shooting at the Mambo Bar on Barr Street, Kitty.
And in March of 2012, businessman Leonard Mahadeo was gunned down as he sat in the Soca Paradise bar located at Old Road Eccles. Two masked gunmen just walked in, aimed their weapons at Mahadeo and opened fire. They then fled.
There is at least one case where a murder was captured on the surveillance camera at a bar but the footage was apparently not enough to convince a jury. Canada-based Guyanese Rawle Harding was gunned down at the Cool Square Bar in West Ruimveldt. Although pictures from the security camera was tendered in court, the accused, Junior Bourne, was freed by the jury last December.
Harding, along with his cousin Clarence Roberts and a taxi driver, was at the bar when two men entered and purchased beverages. They subsequently pulled out guns and confronted Harding and his cousin and one of them grabbed a gold chain Harding was wearing.