Specialised crime-fighting teams will help tackle new types of crime – Pres. Ali


By Vishani Ragobeer

With the threat of a changing nature of crime, President Dr. Irfaan Ali says that specialised regional crime-fighting outfits will be essential in keeping citizens safe and protecting the nation.

The President said this while addressing a handing over ceremony for computer equipment at the Cove and John police station on the East Coast Demerara (ECD), Region Four (Demerara- Mahaica), on Thursday. The equipment was donated by the Jay and Sylvia Sobhraj Foundation.

There, he emphasised that crime-fighting now requires a various set of skills since the nature of crime has been changing globally and it is expected that this will also change locally as well. As such, the Commander-in-Chief contended that specialised regional outfits will be created to help tackle crime.

“The nature of crime is changing so we have to create specialised regional outfits that has a multifaceted manner of skillset that can respond rapidly and effectively to varied situations…” the President said.

President Irfaan Ali

In these regional outfits, the President said that there will be officers trained in Special Forces, specialised police officers and people from the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU).

“In dealing with these criminals and criminal type activity, a variation of skills is required and that skills will be merged into one unit so that you can have quick reaction, quick understanding from a multidimensional reaction to crime-fighting,” the Head of State emphasised.

Importantly, the President sought to explain that regional outfits are not new. Instead, he posited that “regionalisation” has been part of the security strategy for the past 10 years.

He, however, stated, “What is different now is that we are putting a lot of resources into this regionalisation.”

Importantly, the President also said that police work must move beyond the narrow framing of just crime-fighting and also include community-building efforts.  Against the backdrop of the donation of computer equipment to the Cove and John police station, the President explained that police officers can learn how to become trainers and volunteer to train students in communities in the areas of computer science and technology.

Members of the Jay and Sylvia Sobhraj Foundation alongside Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn (second right); Commissioner of Police (ag.), Nigel Hoppie (third from right) and Deputy Police Commissioner (ag.) Calvin Brutus (right) during the ceremonial opening of the centre where the donated computer supplies are being used (Photo: News Room/ June 24, 2021)

“When you go into school you create a different mindset of police, beyond the narrow definition of crime-fighting,” he said, adding: “The police force is about moulding the minds of people, it is about creating positive living environments.”

Meanwhile, Commissioner of Police (ag.), Nigel Hoppie, agreed with the President and remarked that new and novel skills, including information and communication technology (ICT), are needed to develop the police force.

In fact, the commissioner related that ICT is an integral part of the Guyana Police Force (GPF)’s strategic development and said that it has resulted in positive changes within the force, particularly in the criminal investigations department.

The founder of the donor organisation, Jay Sobhraj, emphasised that now more than ever, police have to be partners in communities. As such, he hoped that the computer equipment would help to bolster the skills of the police.

Some of the equipment donated

The Cove and John police station is the fifth centre that has benefited from assistance provided by the Zara Reality group of companies, owned by Sobhraj. The previously established centres are located at: the Felix Austin Police College (FAPC) at Adventure, Corentyne, Region Six (East Berbice- Corentyne); the Richard Faikall Police College at Suddie, Essequibo Coast, Region Two (Pomeroon- Supenaam); the Police Officers’ Training Centre on Camp Road, Georgetown; and, at the Cyber Crime Security Centre at the FAPC in Georgetown.

Between 2012 and 2021, a total of 13,626 people were trained at these computer training centres. These include 10,792 civilians and 2,834 police officers.

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