Gun licenses, police inaction, destruction of public infrastructure, noise nuisance, petty thieves, overloading of public transportation, blockage of main access roads, threats, LED lights on vehicles, disdain treatment of Rural Constables and CPG members by regular policemen and women and being charged to appear in court only to turn up and find no case file jackets filed.
Those were some of the issues raised with Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan on Sunday during a community outreach in Belle West, West Bank Demerara which saw him expressing discomfort with those reports from the members of the public at the conclusion of the meeting.
“You know it’s very, very embarrassing to be hearing all these stories about the police and their non-action at Wales” Ramjattan told the gathering which included Vice President Sydney Allicock and Divisional Commander Edmond Cooper on Sunday.
“When you identify yourself as a RC in the community, you are looked at as a not so important person, the commander responds to us favorably but when you go to the stations they treat you differently” one man indicated.
The same gentleman indicated that there was an instance where he went to the police station and told them of abridge which was broken and identified the persons who he was able to determine broke the bridge and the police rather than act on the information asked him if he saw who broke the bridge and removed the boards. The man pointed out that as RCs and CPG members, they are the ones on the ground and interfacing with the community but the police who are mostly in their stations, don’t seem to have an appreciation for that fact.
“When the RCs’ (Rural Constables) and CPG (Community Policing Group) are there, they have better eyes on the police force and the police don’t like that and I will tell Cooper (Divisional Commander) that we want the relationship between the police, RCs’ and CPGs’ to grow and I want to tell you sir (resident) that when you see things happening, come and see me direct and make a complaint and I will look at those issues” Ramjattan told the aggrieved Rural Constable.
The community according to residents have somewhere close to eighteen hundred persons and the residents called on the minister to explore the possibility of establishing either a police outpost or station in the community so that it can serve as a direct deterrent to those who are bent on committing crimes in the area.
“In this area we have a plot of land located right next to this school and we are not sure what the land is for, but we would like a police outpost because in this area we have a lot of common thieves” one resident told the outreach on Sunday. The issues of street lights was also raised.
“In relation to the police outpost we did not allocate for a police outpost in this area for this year’s budget but I will think about it and talk to the police force to see how best this can happen. We have Venezuelans coming over and the communities are getting larger and we also have a lot of people calling for streets lights but the perennial problem with the street light requests is, we have them but when we install them the NDC would have to pay for the electricity because we have in some areas where NDCs are refusing to pay GPL for the current used” the Security Minister pointed out. However a number of residents have undertaken to do their own bit of community organising so that the lights in their respective streets can be paid for at the end of the month.
On the issue of traffic, Ramjattan heard of loud music, the use of LED lights which affect other road users at nights, the blocking of main access roads the destruction of government infrastructures, and the overloading of public transportation and refusal of drivers to take passengers to their destinations after a certain hour at night coupled with the unreasonable increase of the fare for short drops.
To the issue with the LED Lights the minister pointed out that he had a first-hand experience while entering the community where a driver beamed his, into the eyes of his driver, the number for the car which carried those lights were recorded and the matter is likely to be formally reported to the police, Ramjattan noted. On the issue of noise nuisance, he urged the police to remove the music sets from vehicles and properties once it is found that the persons who are committing the violations, are failing to adhere to the guidelines that speak to the level at which music should be played.
“Guyanese are atrocious with this noise nuisance thing, it is affecting children, hardworking people and others, I want you to stop them and take it away from them immediately, I am urging drastic actions to be taken please” Ramjattan told the police as he addressed the issues of LED lights and the loud playing of music.
One man told the meeting that he has provided the police with CCTV footage of a known character in the community who entered his yard and removed items, the man was arrested on a another matter and the complainant in the case where items were removed from his yard visited the police station and again told the police of his encounter with the individual but despite being given all the necessary information, and evidence, the police never charged the suspect.
The Minister ordered the Divisional Commander to have the matter looked into immediately and to also start a process so that the police office of professional responsibility can investigate the matter.
Residents in the area have accused the police at the Wales Police Station of not taking their reports seriously and hardly ever showing up when they are called to investigate matters.
What the BIG Smith Crime Watch was however able to confirm is that many of the issues raised by the resident were raised with and dealt with by the commander expect the issue where a resident had provided the police with CCTV footage of an intruder and the subsequent failure of the police to properly investigate and place the suspect before the court.
We were also informed that recently, there was an almost complete change of guard at the Wales Police Station after the commander became aware that a number of complaints were coming from the residents with respect to how the police at the very station were handling various matters.