Robotic response by City Constabulary, MMC to robbery of jeweller in market

Dear Editor,

When you are incompetent and you try your incompetent best you are still incompetent. Those were some words uttered by Mr. George Jackman former Director of Public Prosecutions to participants of the Police Prosecutors’ Course 1/1981. The words kept ringing in my ears as the discussion in the media and elsewhere rages on the stolen jewellery, money and valuables recently committed on L. Seepersaud Maraj and Sons jewellery store at the Stabroek Market. Let me be pellucid. I hold no brief for the jewellery store. I have an abiding interest in law enforcement, hence my regular letters to the editor. The responses from the City Constabulary and MMC for their actions  or lack of it are prosaic. Remember, they were the putative protectors of the business entity that lost over $100M in money and valuables stolen from their safe in the market. The operations by bandits apparently took more than five hours. There were no visible forced entry or exit into the market. There are more questions than answers and the more I find out the less I know. MMC submitted a very terse statement to the media. It clearly stated that the security company received an alarm and its ranks responded. They could not gain access to the market. End of the matter. What about their Standard Operational Procedure?  Was there a plan B? Was there some thinking outside of the box after the initial response? What is responsible for the robot like response displayed by the ranks? Is it true that they did not see a single city constable around? Were the city constables hiding or sleeping or were simply not there? Certainly,  the City Constabulary, the police and more so senior members of the MMC themselves should have been activated because of the status and nature of the business. Or was it that they were contacted and took little or no assertive action?

The Head of the City Constabulary made some clear and surprising statements to the press. He stated that victims did not follow standard operational procedure, that is to say that up to the time of his statement the business entity did not officially report the matter to the Constabulary . Was there an unofficial report? Even if that was so, the report of the very serious crime was already in the public domain. The police were investigating and the City Constabulary should have done likewise and not wait for an official report. Should not the Constabulary have made contact with the business they were mandated to protect and failed to do so? If the mountain cannot come to you should not you go to the mountain? The Constabulary Head stated that 4/5 ranks and a supervisor were on duty at the time of the crime. He did not know the exact number of ranks on duty at the time. What a statement long after the crime was reported? Was it 4? Was it 5? Was it that no rank was on duty? Is it true that ranks were detailed to be on duty but they went their respective ways? Should not the constabulary pay attention to simple details? Or is it that the Head fears that he may be accused of micro- managing. What is wrong with micro-managing at times? Occasionally leaders must micro- manage if they are to be effective. The little checks that we fail to do sometimes become major things and will come back to later haunt us. Even the late Steve Jobs use to micro-manage and many great leaders do so at times. So far it is not known what is the nature of the investigation if any being conducted by the City Constabulary apart from them calling for cameras to be in place. Perhaps, it is top secret and will remain so. The City Constabulary has admitted that there are serious crimes and criminal activities in and around the market but appears clueless to bring the sad state of affairs under control. I am reminded of an Indian fable told to me many decades ago by retired Major General Norman McLean. It is still fresh in my memory. Here it is, “When the fence starts to eat the crops there is no security.” In this issue under review, is it that the fence is eating or has eaten the crops? I hope not.

Yours faithfully

Clinton Conway

Assistant Commissioner of Police

(Retired)

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