The response of the police after my mother’s house was burgled was abysmal

Dear Editor,

On Wednesday evening at approximately 23:00 hours, my mother arrived home to find her house had been broken and entered by persons unknown, thankfully in her absence.

I rushed to the house and called 911. The officer who answered the phone listened to half the report and promptly asked me to call the local police station, but did not know the number. I protested and she took the report and passed it to the police station.

I visited the police station and a rather courteous cadre of officers dealt with collecting the information, but did not have transportation to come to the scene, as one officer explained that, “the driver did not turn up to work”. I provided transportation in the form of a taxi for a very professional young detective who took notes and informed us that he would be back with a crime scene unit before 08:00 the next morning.

At this point I was forced to close the bandits entry point to ensure the house would be secure for the night (they broke a hole in the wall), thereby most likely contaminating that part of the crime scene.

The next day my mom (who was so terrified to stay home that I made her stay the night at my house) returned home early to ensure that she would be there when the crime scene unit came.

At about 14:40 hours, after approximately thirty telephone calls to the police station, a varied amount of excuses (including that they had to go to the “important” crime scenes first), and attitudes, they finally showed up to dust a few places, and found no prints (why am I not surprised?). They were even nice and sensitive enough to console her after finding the metal bar used to break in, by saying, “You lucky you were not at home, cause one lash with this bar and they coulda kill you!”.

I am no expert on police work, but I have enough common sense to know a few things:

Law enforcement must not only yield results, but also be immediate and timely to develop the confidence and necessary perception of public safety for development.

The evidence gathered by a crime scene unit more than twelve hours after the fact from an unsealed crime scene is extremely likely to be tainted and useless.

When law enforcement takes its time to respond, and the quality of that response is mediocre, a sense of hopelessness and a lack of respect for the agents sets in.

A few things are glaringly evident here:

The forces transport resources don’t seem to be readily available to respond to “less important” crime late in the evenings.

There are inadequate Crime Scene Investigation resources in the Police Force.

I do remember in the past when bandits broke into my car and stole my stereo, the police recovered it, then it promptly went missing from the station. I never got it back.

The second time they broke into my car, I went straight to the home of a gentleman of questionable means and circumstances, and informed him of the consequences he would face if the stolen items were not returned. They were returned in perfect condition twelve hours later.

The Government has invested an enormous amount of public funds in the Guyana Police Force for weapons and vehicles, but sadly it seems that the investigative capability of the force remains under-resourced. The debate on this approach has already been done so I will not belabour the point.

The fact remains that the police response was abysmal and no amount of apologies can fix that. I know there will be some upset policemen reading this letter including those who may be ‘investigating’ this crime. They can be angry and down tools on the issue or they can solve it.

They can fire off one of their desperate attacking missives in reply. I really don’t care at this point. We all know their capabilities, and regardless of what excuses or explanations they may put up, the court of public opinion does not respect them because they don’t perform with any level of reliability and consistency.

I have at this very moment, totally lost confidence in the Guyana Police Force, and so should you.

Yours faithfully,

Learie Barclay

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