Following countrywide consultations, a constitution for community policing here was recently drafted and this document will be launched when the 33-year-old organization ends its week of anniversary celebrations on March 14.
The constitution is a revised document that outlines the rights and obligations of members of Community Policing Groups (CPGs).
In response to questions at a press conference yesterday on the occasion, Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee said that this is not the first constitution for CPGs.
He explained that there was a document which had certain rights and obligations of the members, which one could have called a constitution but “what we sought to do was to enrich that document, strengthened what existed before and make it a more formal constitution”.
According to the Minister, the Force sought to get as many views as possible through consultations at the various levels of policing. As such the document was circulated to the CPGs in the various divisions and at the end of this phase, Rohee said, a small team headed by former police commissioner, Laurie Lewis was put together to formulate the constitution.
It was based on the consultations that this was done and the drafted document was subsequently presented at Police Headquarters, Eve Leary, Rohee added, and was unanimously accepted.
“In the past there were rules and regulations under which they operated and this is just a more formal approach to the issue”, the Minister asserted.
There are 257 CPGs countrywide with a total of 4, 701 members. Celebrations began yesterday and other activities include, church services, a television programme on Guyana Today, participation in the “Let’s Gaff” radio programme, a public symposium at St. Stanislaus College on Thursday and a parade.
To bring down the curtains on the events following the launch of the constitution, former Police Commissioner Henry Fraser, who was responsible for the organization and establishment of Community Policing, will be honoured.
Reading from a prepared statement Rohee said that the Community Policing Programme “has captured the imagination of the Guyanese citizenry. Encouraged by both the Government and the Police themselves, members of the communities have embraced the programme with vigour and enthusiasm”.
The Minister added that against a backdrop of difficulty in recruiting suitable manpower, a near absence of vehicles and equipment, the Guyana Police Force in 1976 introduced a number of Crime Prevention Committees (CPCs). By the end of 1976, eighty such committees had been formed and were effective to varying degrees.
The basic premise behind the CPC was that regardless of how efficient and technologically equipped a Police Force might be its effectiveness in dealing with crime and lawlessness would be made extremely difficult if it lacked the full support of the public it serves.
He told the media that CPCs were tasked with the responsibility to carry out studies on the crime situation and formulate strategies to help rid communities of criminal activities. Also they were expected to mobilize residents into groups of voluntary public order squads for the purpose of patrolling a designated area at given periods along with members of the Police Force stationed within the Community Policing Districts. In essence, the Crime Prevention Committees (CPCs) were the immediate forerunner of Community Policing Groups.
“Thirty-three years later, CPGs are now institutionalized and are an integral part of Government’s crime fighting strategy”.
Further, Rohee said that the administration has been providing the CPGs with the necessary stores to facilitate their operations and consequently, the safety and security of their respective communities in partnership with the Police within each Station District.
He said that in 2008, the government provided $55 million for the procurement of equipment and vehicles for CPGs and for this year $25million has been provided for a similar purpose.
Asked about the drastic difference in the two allocations, Rohee told the media that unlike last year, we are not faced with situations like the Lusignan massacre.
He stated that following that incident the president met with members of the community where views were expressed. It was as a result of this that a meeting with existing CPGs, potential ones and community leaders were held at his office and “wish lists” were presented.
Rohee explained that the lists were examined and the cost which included vehicles and stores amounted to $55M, the bulk of which went to the East Coast area.
This year, he pointed out, we are not faced with such a situation and as such there was no need to allot that much money.
Some of the money that remained from last year’s sum will be used to provide the CPG in Bartica with stores. The Minister stated that this is an area that had also suffered and a pledge was made to them following the massacre there on February 17 last year.