Community Policing Groups, which were found to include abusers, alcoholics and corrupt persons, were Monday morning reconstituted with a focus to weed out corrupt members, rebuild with new members and regain trust in the communities they serve.
The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Guyana Police Force are looking to revive community policing and increase its members to 5,000 across the country.
The PPP government has claimed that when it was out of office 2015 to 2020, over 2,000 members of community policing groups left because of poor management.
There are now reports that assets belonging to the State were being misused and rogue elements, hiding behind the face of community policing, carried out illegal activities.
This will no longer be condoned and the government also promised adequate financing for the task at hand.
There are currently166 community police groups across the country with 2903 members.
Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn explained that this shows a decline in groups by 20% and membership by 40%. He said the activity level of the current groups is also below 30%.
Benn says the necessity to reconstitute community policing is discerning in what the statistics on crime show.
He pointed out that when compared to the same period in 2019, murders have increased by 37% and robberies by 28% in 2020.
There are reported declines in other crime data, which Benn says is a reflection of the fact that more persons at home due to the curfew and other COVID 19 restrictions.
Alarmingly, there is an increase in road traffic deaths by 41 percent.
“What we are looking at is a virtual collapse of the community policing system, the misuse of community policing for political purposes. We have found that the previous government seriously undermined community policing systems and ignored the purpose intended,” he explained.
Reshi Das who has 33 years of experience in the Guyana Police Force has been named the administrator of Community Policing.
The Guyana Police Force through its Commissioner (ag) Nigel Hoppie has pledged the support of police to achieve a crime-free society.
“Law enforcement cannot address the issue of crime by itself and we need members of the community… community policing is here to stay, it is the way forward – results oriented and should be sustained,” Hoppie said.
Community Policing Groups have now been charged with a new mandate to promote social cohesion and unity at the community level.
Its strength is expected to increase to 5000 members across the 10 geographic regions.
The government also plans to launch a satisfaction survey on crime prevention soon along with the reconstitution of the Commission on Law and Order.