Interior crimes, corruption in focus at police conference

-force not equipped to effectively deal with piracy, admits Brumell

The increase in serious crimes, especially murders in the interior regions, and reports of police corruption will be given special focus during the three-day Annual Police Officers’ Conference that opened yesterday, acting Police Commissioner Leroy Brumell said.

Brumell announced that special teams would be set up at the conference to look at the issues and he also admitted that the police have been unable to effectively deal with piracy because it is not properly equipped.

The acting Commissioner yesterday reported that up to February 27, there was a 2% decrease in serious crime in comparison with the same period last year. The conference, he noted, will be used to review the police force’s operations, policies, administrative procedures, strategies to deal with crime, traffic and other responsibilities, in keeping with its mandate.

Last year saw an increase in serious crimes by 4% when compared with 2010. Although a 7% decrease in murders was recorded, with 130 murders last year in comparison to 140 in 2010, Brumell noted that there was a 23% increase in armed robberies and a 31% increase in robbery with violence that contributed to the overall increase in serious crimes for last year. He added that armed robberies and robbery with aggravation have seen increases this year. He did, however, highlight the recent success of ranks of ‘C’ Division (East Coast) in dismantling a gang that was emerging in the Cummings Lodge area. Four men are currently on remand as a result, he said.

According to Brumell, the Guyana Police Force (GPF) is “very concerned” about the number of disorderly murders in the interior division, where 30 of 53 disorderly type murders were committed last year. He said that the present price of gold internationally has sparked an increased in mining and other activities in the gold fields, resulting in more persons venturing into those areas. He said that a team of officers at the conference will focus on the policing in the interior division and will also make recommendations for more effective management and control of the area.

Already, Brumell pointed out, police checkpoints have been established within the division; roving patrols and patrols in mining communities have been put in place; and stop and search operations are also being conducted. Brumell said that to further boost its operations, the GPF is working alongside officials of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and other stakeholders.

He also admitted that the force has been unable to deal with piracy effectively, while noting that most of its operations are land-based since it is not properly equipped to deal with crimes at sea.

He added that the GPF would collaborate with the Guyana Defence Force, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Department of Fisheries to deal with the situation. “The [GPF] will continue its strategic, proactive approach toward dealing with crime using intelligence-gathering, crime prevention and crime detection activities,” he said, noting that there will also be collaboration with government, non-governmental organisations and the public.

Brumell also said that a better rapport with the public will be an area for focus, since it is an area that has put a damper on the GPF’s image. Reports of misconduct, including corruption, he said, have been received and are being dealt with by the Office of Professional responsibility. Noting that currently 78 ranks are before the courts on criminal charges, Brumell said a group of officers will be looking at police corruption during the conference. Training will also be a major focus, he added.

Turning his attention to narcotics, Brumell said that the GPF has recorded a lot of success, with two major busts last year leading to arrests and charges. Last year, he said, police seized and destroyed 885.034 kilogrammes of cannabis in comparison with 191.882 kilogrammes in 2010.

Additionally, he said 411.138 kilogrammes of cocaine were seized in 2011 in comparison with 134 kilogrammes in 2010. Also, during 2011, police charged 135 persons for offences related to cocaine and 481 for offences related to marijuana, he said. Most of the marijuana destroyed resulted from operations in the upper Berbice River and along the Linden Soesdyke Highway. Brumell added that the GPF is continuing to concentrate on maintaining focus and working with local and international law enforcement agencies in the fight against drug trafficking.

He also noted that the amount of firearms that pass though Guyana’s porous borders is also a cause for concern, saying that the force has made “serious efforts” and netted 125 illegal firearms last year. “This is a momentum that has been maintained from previous years,” he said.

Traffic statistics, he also reported, reflect the “hard work of the traffic ranks,” and he said at the end of February this year there were 17 fatalities in comparison with 21 last year. Of this figure three were pedestrians while six were pedal cyclists.

Traffic education, especially among school children, he said, will be emphasised.

The conference ends tomorrow.

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