After six members of the Tuschen Community Policing Group were held by the police for five hours after they had answered a call about bandits in the area, residents of the Tuschen New Scheme, East Bank Essequibo (EBE) are calling on the police to support the work of the area’s community police and take steps to ensure they have the necessary resources available including firearms.
Six members of the group and two residents including a licensed firearm holder were detained by the police for more than five hours after the gun owner fired shots behind fleeing men suspected to be bandits. Residents accused the police of turning up at the scene and behaving unprofessionally towards them as well as the community police members instead of pursuing the suspected criminals.
Several residents on Friday contacted Stabroek News and expressed their disappointment about how the police handled the situation.
One resident who did not want his identity revealed said that around 9.30 pm on Thursday they spotted strange men in an unfinished house. Thinking that it was bandits who were hiding out there, they immediately called Leonora Police Station but got no response.
According to the resident, they then called the CPG and informed members of the situation. Prior to the arrival of six CPG members residents including a businessman who is a licensed firearm holder mobilized themselves. When the CPG members arrived, they along with the group headed towards the unfinished house. Shortly afterwards several persons were seen running away and the licensed firearm holder discharged two warning shots in the air, the resident said.
Police, Stabroek News was told, arrived some time after this and instead of pursuing the men, opted to arrest the pursuers. According to one resident, after the house that the men were hiding in was pointed out, the duty officer went in and came out claiming that he saw no footprints. The unfinished structure, the resident said was in darkness.
At the Leonora Police Station, this newspaper was told, the eight men were put to sit on the bench and the weapon belonging to the licensed firearm holder was seized. The residents said that the ranks accused the licensed firearm holder of putting people’s lives in danger. They were all released around 3.30 am on Friday.
A businessman from the area said that “I was shocked at the behaviour of the police, particularly the duty officer, how he treated the CPG members.” He said that it is the CPG members who had to be constantly patrolling the area although they do not have a firearm. He said that the police hardly come to do patrols although crimes particularly of the break and enter variety, are on the increase.
According to the residents, one of the fleeing men was seen in possession of a firearm.
“I want the police to be supportive to the community policing group… Those ranks act really unprofessional last night,” the resident said, adding that no police rank revisited the scene to look for clues.
Stabroek News was later told that after meeting with a senior rank in the Division, the CPG members were applauded for their hard work and the firearm was returned to its owner.