Amid rampant serious crime with high-powered weaponry, the Ministry of Home Affairs this afternoon announced that Cabinet has granted permission for the establishment of a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit.
It issued the following statement:
“The Ministry of Home Affairs wishes to advise citizens that Cabinet has approved the establishment of a SWAT Unit for the Guyana Police Force. This initiative is aimed at strengthening the Force’s law enforcement capabilities.
“With a SWAT Unit, the Guyana Police Force would be better placed to make specialized interventions, thereby, ensuring law and order is maintained, and prospective threats are neutralized.
“The Ministry has engaged the services of ‘The Emergence Group’ (TEG), a Washington-based consultancy firm, to obtain the requisite assistance in this initiative.
“The process will commence shortly with an ‘Organizational Needs Assessment’ to be done by experts from the consultancy firm. Curriculum development and training, including mentoring, will also be undertaken by the consultancy firm.
“The establishment of a SWAT team has received the full support of the leadership of the Guyana Police Force.”
A SWAT team had long been called for to fight crime. GINA had reported Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee as saying as long ago as January 2007 that a SWAT team would be set up. Training was conducted for this but the process was derailed because of compromised personnel.
Critics have said that the police force needs root and branch reform before measures like a SWAT unit can successfully function. A previous specialist crime fighting unit, the Target Special Squad had to be disbanded several years ago in disgrace after repeated charges of extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses.