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Thursday, May 18, 2006
Where were the Police?

AS ARMED bandits seem to have shifted their operations base from Georgetown in Demerara to New Amsterdam and surrounding areas in Berbice, a troubling story has come out of the `Ancient County’.

This prompted Home Affairs Minister, Ms Gail Teixeira to make an unscheduled visit to Berbice yesterday, as Police Headquarters ordered a probe into the reported slow response of members of the Force to a robbery at Betsy Ground, East Canje.

Three gunmen terrorized seven members of a Canada-based family here to attend to some family business, and robbed them of a quantity of diamonds, foreign and local currency, and seven Canadian passports.

The robbery took place at about 02:30h Tuesday.

The victims claimed that repeated telephone calls to the Albion, Corentyne and Central Police Stations in New Amsterdam were unanswered.

Ranks from the Reliance Police Station eventually arrived at the scene, but this was after the bandits had fled. The ordeal had lasted through dawn, the victims said.

The minister’s hurried visit to the area is more than justified.

It is disgusting that the phones at police stations not far from the scene of the robbery kept ringing out, while the robbery lasted for well over two hours.

Is it that the Police in New Amsterdam and its environs, a once sleepy area, have not yet awakened to the threat posed by armed robbers as the troubling crime wave that has hit us surges into areas away from the capital city?

Why were the telephones at the stations not manned?

If citizens cannot rely on an alert Police Force to defend them when armed bandits attack, then where can they turn?

The situation is frightening.

We would not like to think that the Berbice Police are unhappy to become involved with armed robbers, and so they just allow the telephones to ring out, just in case persons at the other end are in danger from thugs with guns.

After all, the very nature of the job puts the policeman at risk when robbers strike. Protecting citizens at risk is their duty, and that is the bottom line.

We remember the gun spree at Eccles on the East Bank Demerara earlier this year when the rat-a-tat of automatic gunfire was heard far and wide, and the Police at the Ruimveldt station took an inordinately long time to respond.

Some felt that the Police were not inclined to face the armed bandits, and the Police Commissioner responded that if this was the case, then those who shirked their duty would be dealt with.

As for 911 in the city, we are not sure that this is being manned as it should be.

We have received reports of someone becoming apprehensive because of strange telephone calls in the wee hours of yesterday.

He called 911 several times, and it just rang out.

A report coming out of the assassination of Minister Satyadeow Sawh and his siblings told of a similar lack of response from calls to 911.

Is it too much to ask the Police that this number be manned, especially in the early morning hours, when most violent crimes are committed?

Guyana Chronicle