Community Policing Groups for border communities
By Bibi Khatoon
As the Government continues to beef up security at the border with Venezuela, residents have expressed an interest in setting up Community Policing Groups (CPGs) to assist the process.
This is according to Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan, who today explained that there is a need for community policing groups to help the soldiers to secure far-flung communities.
Recently, the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) established patrol bases at various border communities in Regions One and Seven.
“We want to help the police and the army and there have been calls from some members, especially those that own shops, who indicated to me that they would like to set up some CPG groups for purposes of also enhancing, at the local level, their security and having groups that are going to do the patrols and the surveillance and so on,” Minister Ramjattan said.
He acknowledged that the residents may not be capable of supplying classic intelligence but simple information is what the law enforcement authorities need for example “if they see strangers and they see Venezuelans coming in and doing a couple of things, we would like them to telephone us at the headquarters here at the Ministry…that also helps.”
Administrator of Community Policing Groups, Senior Superintendent (Ret’d) Dennis Pompey noted that the discovery of illegal airstrips and aircraft in the interior was aided by community groups.
He added that there are also persons entering Guyana from other countries and community groups are monitoring those activities.
However, Pompey pointed out that there are also challenges being faced by the groups; these include financial constraints, unstable membership, lack of trust between the Community Groups and the police and the leaking of information to criminals.
To deal with some of the issues, the administration began screening persons before accepting them into the CPGs.
“When we started the CPG, we were trying regardless of if a man served a sentence and he come out of prison and want to assist in securing his community, we used to allow that but year after year, things develop and we start a screening process of the persons now coming into the CPG because information sometimes leak out about what is happening or when patrols going out, when to attack and when not to attack,” Pompey said.
Notwithstanding the challenges, the Administrator mentioned that there has been a number of cases which prove the community groups help in solving crimes.
He alluded to the arrests of several persons involved in a carjacking ring recently and the arrests of wanted persons as among the stories of success.
There are currently 221 community policing groups with 4,304 members.
To observe the groups 42nd anniversary, a number of activities including a Spelling B competition, a route march, a youth conference and a women conference are planned.