The 911 emergency system was recommissioned yesterday after several years of problems.
The new system, which is being run out of a section of the Brickdam Police Station, is designed to respond to emergency calls from citizens across Guyana and includes features such as customised reporting, selective call transfers, automatic caller identification, SMS messaging and local tracking.
During a tour yesterday, Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan said that the system is expected to work smoothly since over 40 police officers have received training to operate it.
Ramjattan described the recommissioning as a huge development in the country’s security sector and lauded service providers GT&T and Digicel for their support. “This is a big development, huge development and we want the people to promote it, to love it, to love the equipment, to take care of it, to maintain them,” Ramjattan said.
“Slightest problem, you don’t need to relax, there is a need to call up technicians from GT&T or Digicel; you please call them, don’t wait until the thing is totally dead. That is what happens sometimes with our policemen, they care not to act immediately,” he urged.
According to Ramjattan, the efficiency of the system would be supported by the addition of a fleet of vehicles that was donated by the Chinese government to aid the force’s responses.
The vehicles include over 56 pick-ups, 25 ATVs and about 20 buses, which will be officially handed over on Monday.
Ramjattan said that with the addition of the new vehicles, police around the country would no longer claim they are unable to respond to reports.
“So don’t feel that because we will get the 911 we are going to be stifled because we don’t have the resources to back it up,” Ramjattan said, while noting that the new vehicles will be deployed to various locations.
However, he said that most of the vehicles will be deployed to ‘A Division,’ since more than 50% of serious crimes are committed in this division daily.
There have been numerous issues with the 911 system over the years. Persons attempting to utilise the service had complained of their calls going unanswered.
Minister of State Joseph Harmon, during a post-Cabinet press briefing on March 17, announced that Cabinet had given its no objection to the award of a $27.9 million contract to Digicel for the provision of a 911 business solution emergency service system for the Ministry of Public Security.
This development had come months after the Private Sector Commission (PSC) and acting Police Commissioner David Ramnarine expressed concern over the quality of the 911 service being provided by GTT.
Also present at the recommissioning ceremony yesterday was Ramnarine, who said that he was extremely elated about the revamped system. “Today is a landmark day in the life of the force, particularly and by extension to the people of this country because it is intended that the services of the 911 will be disseminated to some other 52 other locations across the country,” he said.
Ramnarine urged the ranks to utilise the training they attained well and to display professionalism in their duties. “We have provided sufficient and adequate training for you, the operators of the system; you will be handling the units, you who will be listening to the phone calls; and I urge and remind the operators of the type of courtesy, quality of services that is required and expected of you who have taken an oath to serve,” he reminded them.
He also told them to ensure that the system is something meaningful and useful and not something “mirroring the challenges of the past.” “We need to improve in quality of service. While our physical infrastructure is improving at a very rapid phase, sadly our attitude and behaviour towards or work, towards our colleagues, towards the members of the public, there is a huge gap,” Ramnarine lamented.