Officials of the Guyana Police Force’s ‘B’ division yesterday met with residents of the Bagotville community located on the West Bank of Demerara to listen to their concerns on crime.
The forum was the first in a series of outreaches the division plans to undertake in the West Demerara area in the coming months and follows a report in this newspaper on Tuesday which said that Parika residents were alarmed at the level of crime.
Commander of B Division of the GPF, Deputy Commissioner Paulette Morrison along with Deputy Commander of the division, Superintendent John Sauers and Chairman of Community Policing Groups, B division, Khain Singh met with the residents of the community who voiced various concerns. Morrison stated that the meeting was being held to listen to problems residents may have so that the force, with the assistance of the public, can eliminate crime-related activities in the area.
While most of the complaints fell under noise nuisance and the presence of cattle on private properties, one resident pointed out that the recent movement of ‘persons’ to the Parfait-Harmonie housing scheme is a development the police should take a note of. The resident noted that over the past few months a few ‘strange’ persons have been caught stealing cattle and other animals belonging to residents. He said persons have been entering the community to carry out petty crimes and have been forming links with other criminal-minded persons residing there. The resident said reports have been made to the police stations in the area but nothing seems to have been initiated by ranks stationed there.
As regards noise nuisance, one resident questioned the criteria used in the granting of permission to persons in holding events such as village day celebrations and barbecues. The resident said on numerous occasions villagers can only sleep after the early hours of the morning when the noise emanating from the stereo sets at such events subsides.
Another concern voiced by residents was the manner in which they have been treated by ranks at the Wales Police Station. One resident said she was physically assaulted by another person in the area and she was ‘on a run around’ as she tried to give a statement to ranks at the station. Morrison called on ranks there to be more helpful to the public. She said that ranks need to get their acts together and also encouraged Community Policing Groups in the area to get involved in the fight against crime. As regards the presence of the criminal-minded entering the area, she said there is a noticeable ‘shift of culture’ in the area. Noting that she was not speaking with a stereotypical tone, she said the fact remains that new faces are in the area and encouraged residents to be vigilant.
Chairman of the La Grange/Nismes NDC Isaac Bhagwandin told the audience that the outreach is good for the community and the police force. He said he believes that the outreach will bring positive results for the police as he noted that the NDC and the police force had a close relationship but pointed out that the police had to make an extra effort to reduce the level of crime.
Sauers urged the residents to consider forming Neighbourhood Policing Groups since he noted that these units greatly assist the force in fighting crime.
He called on residents to start mobilizing themselves to form such groups but asked them not to place politics and religion in their thoughts in the process.
Both Sauers and Morrison called on youths in the area to consider a career in the police force. Morrison said eligibility to join the force hinges on a good secondary education background with an honest personality. She said if residents could bring someone or a friend who may have an interest in joining the force the result could minimize the shortage of ranks the force is facing. She added that being a member of the force for some 33 years she knows that any person who is bent on developing him or herself can progress in the force as she noted that members of the force come from different backgrounds to undertake similar duties.
The forum attracted approximately 50 residents, and according to Morrison there will be follow ups in the near future. She told the residents that if they are not satisfied with the treatment or service they receive when visiting police stations in the West Demarara area, they should not hesitate to visit her at the Leonora Police station.