Indigenous communities urged to set up policing groups

Indigenous leaders were on Friday asked to consider the establishment of Community Policing Groups (CPGs) in their communities as a means of assisting the Guyana Police Force with maintaining law and order.

Addressing the indigenous representatives on the final day of the 12th Annual National Toshaos Council Conference at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Administrator of Community Policing Groups at the Ministry of Public Security Dennis Pompey said work is ongoing to have CPGs implemented in outlaying indigenous communities.

“Based on His Excellency [President David Granger’s] visit to the interior regions of One, Seven, [and] Eight, he would have consulted with the Ministry of Public Security to set up Community Policing Groups in those regions and we are in the process of doing that,” Pompey remarked.

He went on to say that while the ministry is responsible for the provision of resources, CPGs need the support of community members to be effective in carrying out their duties.

“For community policing to be successful in any community, we must first have the support of each and every individual within that community… if you don’t have that type of support from the community, you find that there will always be problems within the various communities,” the administrator noted. 

Additionally, Pompey urged the indigenous leaders not to feel as though they are taking on the responsibility of the Guyana Police Force, but to understand that they too have a role to play in addressing illegal activities in their communities.

“I know some of you must be asking questions internally—why we have to do this when we have the Guyana Police Force? But you know and I know that the Guyana Police Force, some of the stations are not in the various communities. And, if something is to happen within your community, you must have somebody to respond, you must have a group of persons to respond,” he opined.

“I have visited Kaikan, and there are some challenges there. They have two sets of challenges; one is the internal issues and the other is the Venezuelans who are coming across the borders… I am told that in Kaikan, persons, some Venezuelans, are trying to tie the Marijuana trade from Venezuela into that community, which is something the people in that community will have to look at and the police will always have to play their role in defending that part of our country,” he added.

In response to Pompey’s presentation, some indigenous leaders expressed interest in establishing CPGs in their communities, while others raised concerns about ill equipped police officers.

“I support the policing group but in my case where I live, in Waramuri, what I realized happening before I came out to Georgetown, as soon as I was elected, the police [are] 10 miles away from my village and I had to call them to inform them that there is some criminal activity going on in my village. They asked me if I could go in the area, arrest the person and bring them out. I did so because I want to see justice. A similar incident happened two weeks later and the police asked me to do the same thing again,” one toshao shared.

“Now I am hearing about the Community Policing Group and I support it but I think it would allow the police to stay in the station and not come out at all to the village. And even if we need to be equipped with motor vehicles, the police don’t have that, so they gonna say, ‘Alright toshao let the Community Policing Group handle that’ and because it’s voluntary, so we work and they get the pay,” he added.

Toshao Paul Pierre, of Kwebana, raised concerns about an unutilised Police Outpost at Santa Cruz and lack of transportation for police stationed at the Acquero Police Station in the Moruca sub-district.  

Other concerns came from Region Nine, where one woman spoke about the issue of cattle rustling.

“For years now we have been dealing with rustling and the other day I had evidence of it. I called the police from my village and he said his transportation was done and he can’t make it in that time… I would request that the station at Aishalton get transportation so that they can perform their duties as police, not just in my village but other villages as well,” the woman said.

In responding, Pompey said, “law enforcement is the Guyana Police Force’s responsibility. You are just assisting to carry out their duties, so they cannot rely on the CPG to do everything within the various communities, so that is another concern I will have to raise.”

With regard to the issue of cattle rustling, he said, “Cattle rustling in Region Nine was discussed and we had set up community watches in various communities where cattle rustling was going on by the farmers and cattle rearers in those communities. We will have to find out what it happening with that.”

Further, the Administrator promised to raise the issue of the unutilised outpost and lack of transportation at the Acquero Police Station with the minister.

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