‘Random stop and search’ aids in seizure of illegal weapons – Ramjattan
While Minister of Public Security KhemrajRamjattan has agreed that a Police officer needs “reasonable suspicion” to stop and search a vehicle, he says “random stop and search” has led to many seizures of illegal weapons.
The Police Force’s “stop and search” process became the topic of widespread debate after a video went viral on social media with Attorney-at-law Ryan Crawford launching an expletive-laden verbal attack on a Police officer.
The incident occurred Thursday last on the Mahaicony, East Coast Demerara public road after the Attorney was stopped and asked to provide his documents.
Crawford contended that the officer had no right to stop him, since there was no “reasonable suspicion or probable cause” to stop the vehicle.
“You stopped me illegally on the F#%king road man; I didn’t do anything wrong,” he declared.
Speaking with the media on the sidelines of an event on Monday, Minister Ramjattan agreed that there needs to be “reasonable suspicion”to stop a vehicle but said random stop and search aids the seizure of illegal items.
“It’s about 20-30 people this year that have been caught that way – with random searches.
“…if we have to get the intelligence with everything, sometimes it’s not going to be working, it will never work.
“But you do a random search, you see somebody driving a little fast –you may say that is not reason to suspect them, you will get very technical with the law.”
But he said “the Policeman’s instinct” leads to the discovery of illegal weapons and other items.
The Police officer, whose voice can be heard in the recording, when asked why he stopped the vehicle, said “I could not observe the driver properly” since the motorcar was heavily tinted.
However, Mr. Crawford continued with his abuse.
Ramjattan told the media that he could not determine whether the Police officer was wrong but said he believes the Officer was inquiring about the tinted vehicle.
He deemed the attack on the Police officer as inappropriate adding that “I believe that a courteous citizen, realizing that the police trying to do his work, will (comply).
“If a Policeman stop him to take bribe, well fine.”
Some persons argued that continued harassment by the Police may have led to the outburst –something which was supported in an apology later issued by Crawford.
But the Minister asked persons to lodge complaints with the Ministry and the Police Force’s Office of Professional Responsibility.
“At the OPR (Office of Professional Responsibility), hundreds of complaints have been made and we have addressed all of them.
“Some Policemen have been knocked off as a result… it is not that one day you will wake up and all Policemen (will) be perfect human beings but we know too, as members of the public, that the Police has a difficult job,” Ramjattan told reporters.