National Security Strategy vs Personal Safety

Again: Stealing, Survival as Protest

I suppose that my journalistic superiors and senior political columnists (and “satirists”) will point out that the concepts or issues indicated in my caption need no “versus”.  The national strategy will enhance our individual safety and security. Wanna bet?

As debate on the 2013 Budget rages on amongst those you-all elected, I use this piece to plead again for two simple but vitally significant components related to safety and security in our local communities.  Yes I’m always going on about them: Police stations and outposts fully manned and equipped and Google-map-like profiles of all communities for those stations (Even though the crooks may benefit from them too.  But the profiles will be a powerful tool for the Good Guys, the Police; I mean the good clean cops.)

Here’s the background, the context.  At the real risk of being simplistic, I love to keep issues simple no matter how complex the nature of the issues.

Government and its ministers preach about their inputs, funding and “strategies” and “plans”, all meant to fight, to reduce crime in its numerous forms.  The ordinary folk, like me, and the newspaper editors (especially) know, first hand, the extremely high incidence of criminal activity.  On a daily basis!  It is always argued, by the “Authorities”, that crime is everywhere and can never be completely eliminated.  Guyana’s population, however, is tiny compared to elsewhere.  So, proportionally, our society should never experience crime as daily as we do.  In all its manifestations and severity.

Causes of our criminal enterprise

Worry not.  I won’t burden you with all the classic reasons and causes for crime.  You and I have read all the books, the studies.
You should always bear in mind though that criminal behaviour – and a criminal’s behaviour – begins in some home.  I point to parenting or lack of it, role models, examples or contradictions.  Educational institutions, moralistic values, perhaps long abandoned, all impact upon the moulding or nurturing of social phenomena such as crime.

Add in the movies, video games, robust, sometimes vile, incendiary songs – – and the get-rich-quick success of drug lords and their surrogates, and you get a vivid insight into the temptations which lure unemployed and  working youth into wrong-doing.  What?  I’ve omitted executive lawlessness, kleptomania, poor prosecutions, rogue police and easy-to-acquire weaponry?  Sorry, I wanted just an indicative list.

“Strategies” like peas, my two pleas…

A few weeks ago, our Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Soldier – Scholar David Granger, reminded us of the various Security/Policing Studies Reports and Recommendations that were/are available to the Home Affairs Minister and his team.  These include those spawned by both local and British “enquirers”.

I’ve always held the view that the PPP/C Cabinet, including the Honourable but Harassed and Petulant Comrade Rohee, does not like to implement findings and recommendations which the Opposition champions (publicly).  Even if they are in consonance with effective commonsense and what they – the PPP/C – know to be quite necessary.  So either the finding are ignored or considered in the government’s own sweet time.

I think it was on Old Years Day 2012, when the Honourable Minister unveiled his own strategies and reforms with respect to the Police Force and policing.  (“Force” is to become service if only to soothe and satisfy our minds.) Then three weeks ago he was at it again.  Dr Ashni Singh – still one of the “brighter” Cabinet members – supported his Home Affairs colleague during the Budget revelations on Budget Day.

Check this partial listing: Citizens Security Programme, Community Policing, CCTV (?) CIA in Castellani Compound (Guyana’s CIA/KGB/Mossad??), Station Management Committees, National Commission on Law and Order, Crimestoppers, I-paid-a-bribe-project, Forensic Lab (long in the making), Integrated Crime Information System (ICIS) and the numerous units to be established as Police Service Reform kicks in.  Strategies like peas!  I’m putting down none of them but am hoping, again, that a recently-announced civilian expert-group can have these grand plans translated into action, with swift results.  Our few people are being robbed, assaulted, killed!

I mean , you can’t fault the government for sounding good, well-meaning, with the following: ”The strategy focuses on key areas dealing with developing and strengthening administrative competencies, improving professionalism, strengthening accountability and integrity, deepening inter-organisational linkages for greater cohesiveness and impact, expanding on safe neighbourhooods pilots, and establishing Houses of Justice to allow for greater people participation and involvement in public safety and security issues”.

So aspirational.  But the victims of daily crime would hardly be impressed, at this stage.

And my goodness, wait!  Did I hear and read Honourable Granger, Honourable Greenidge and Comrade Carberry threaten not to approve the $17.5 Billion budgeted for Honourable Rohee’s Ministry?  Stay tuned Crime-Prone Guyana.  Even as I repeat my call for Stations to have profiles of all communities within their Districts.

This is how we “protest”, baby

Editor/Columnist Adam Harris worries that many aggrieved persons have lost the stomach for vigorous, visible street -based protest.

My Senegalese pal wonders why Guyanese with a cause don’t take to the streets in peaceful mass demonstrations or civil disobedience, as is done elsewhere. And Dr David Hinds congratulated me, on my own perspective regarding the new form of fighting discrimination, discontent and disrespect for effort.

I shared my view then that, since many are scared of victimization in the face of daily personal economic challenges, many Guyanese, including the innocent and the “honest”, turn to thievery to get back at officialdom.  From Ministry to Corporation to Joint Services to NGO, to steal is to protest now. Lawful income is to be augmented.
To me and my type, it is still wrong and immoral.  To the new generation?  Discuss…

And no wonder Dr Hinds observed a few days ago: “The PPP’s decision to seemingly incorporate bribery of Africans as an integral part of its mode of governance coupled with the ease with which Africans of all classes accommodate to that phenomenon, represent a dimension of our ethnic dynamics that is silenced by African Guyanese opposition politicians and the media who are afraid of being labelled racist”.
‘Til next week!
Comments? allanafety@yahoo.com