The Guyana Police Force on Friday conducted a series of exercises as part of Operation Assurance 2, which were aimed at testing the efficiency and effectiveness of police units in responding to acts of terrorism across the country.
The activity, which was as a result of a directive from the National Security Committee (NSC), saw the participation of members from the Joint Services including the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team and focused mostly on three divisions, ‘A’, ‘C’ and ‘D.’
Among those present on Friday afternoon to witness the last exercise, which was conducted at Timehri, East Bank Demerara, were Minister of Public Secu-rity Khemraj Ramjattan, Commissioner of Police Seelall Persaud, Deputy Director of Prisons Gladwyn Samuels, Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum and other senior officials, including the Divisional Commanders.
Persaud told reporters that a report will be prepared and sent to the NSC on the conduct of the operation and based on the views of the umpires. He said, “We do exercises traditionally over and over,” before adding, “SWAT, for example, do exercises all the time and they train continuously.”
He, however, explained that bigger exercises need coordination among specialist units, headquarters and, in the case of Friday’s activity, the three divisions. “It doesn’t normally happen unless we programme it,” he added.
The operations, Persaud said, test the adherence to the standard operational procedures, which helps to strengthen the force.
Ramjattan, when asked for a comment on the overall exercise, said it was all part of the training to ensure that the SWAT team and other units are “tuned in” and the members get practice. “…So that if this thing happened in real time, they would at least better appreciate what the challenges are and difficulties and so on,” Ramjattan said.
“I am proud of the way the operation went,” he confidently stated. Ramjattan explained that many countries experience terrorist attacks, while noting that “we must not feel that it is not coming our way, you have to understand that at any quarter, [when] least expected, things like these [could] happen and though we might not have the resources like other countries, whatever we have we should do the best we possibly can.
“Train them, rehearse them, do the exercises like this so that at least they would do their best… in case something like this happens,” he noted.
The operation, which commenced early Friday morning, saw ranks being involved in several exercises. The first commenced on the East Coast Demerara, which saw the acting out of a scenario where radical elements had invaded a location where stakeholders were addressing measures to prevent threats of terrorism. The “radicals” were informed of the meeting and planted a bomb in the meeting place. The police were informed and deployed their team to conduct a controlled evacuation of the VIPs at the location. They also had to search for the device.
In a second scenario, elements of the same group had gone there with the intention to kidnap the person who organized the forum and take him to a house in Leonora, West Coast Demerara, to wait for further instructions from their leaders overseas. Once this information was verified, a cordon was put in place, several persons including the minister were notified and the tactical teams were deployed to deal with the issue and to get the men to surrender.
Afterward, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) took over and while interviewing the men, gleaned information about two other members coming in to do an execution. Based on that information, checks were made, road blocks set up and the men were confronted.
As a result, there was a chase and the men exited their car, entered a house in Timehri, and held as a hostage, the lone person who was there at the time. This was the third scenario. The police, with the help of the SWAT team, surrounded the house and the suspects were taken into custody.
Thereafter, crime scene ranks came in to process the scene, the suspects were handed over to the detectives for further processing and the person who had been shot would have been taken to the closest medical institution.
The responses of the police to all three scenarios of the operation were deemed successful at the conclusion of the operation and it was declared the force is equipped to deal with any such cases should they occur.