There have been innumerable articles and opinion pieces done on the crime situation. Its effectiveness can be brought into question given that the situation continues to exacerbate. A choice of saying nothing or being futile while vocal is unfortunately imposed. Faced with a life or death situation, one may, therefore, be forced to concede that there is merit; however, obscured in speaking out with the hope of effective and sustained interventions.
That said, criminals have become more brazen and operate in broad daylight with seeming impunity. That could question the implementation of any existing response plan and the relevance of the security cameras that are now prevalent, especially across the City. That CCTV project cost millions in taxpayers’ dollars and if used as the populace desires, can be an effective mechanism to deter and to aid in possible apprehension.
To ordinary Guyanese, it appears to not be used as intended, given the freedom in which criminals seem to operate. What’s amazing is that a number of crimes have been captured from private CCTV cameras and posted on social media. With a small society and the extensive interconnection across the social media platforms, one can only assume that those within the relevant authority may have been recipients.
The pertinent questions are: what has been done if such footage was received? What is being done with footage of criminal activities captured by the CCTV cameras installed by the Government? Again, one can assume that trained operatives are on a twenty-four-hour basis monitoring the cameras within a central room, recording the footage in the process, and passing information in real-time to a response team or teams.
This assumption is from at least two perspectives; how some countries use such systems and the high cost for implementation. The latter is implicit on the grounds of value from the costly investment. With such expectations and mindsets consumed with fear, citizens would naturally believe that the national CCTV project is primarily to aid in the combating of crime in a timely manner. The obvious question would be: if not for that purpose, then what?
Expectations are not confined to the use of the cameras in question, but for law enforcement to respond timely and effectively to the desperate cries for help. Many have and continue to lament the inexcusably slow or total lack of response by the Police and the often unanswered 911 calls. Lack of transportation and ranks and recurring excuses. When transportation is offered by the concerned party, the unavailability of ranks is instinctively raised.
These have led to the continual erosion of confidence in the Police by the general public. What has been completely absent, at least from within the public domain, is the findings of any internal investigation to determine why, in some instances, response to crimes is slow or non-existent. Paid by taxpayers, shouldn’t the force see merit to inform as to real reasons why some ranks reportedly ignore the pleas for help? This is aside from the usual excuses offered taking into consideration the constraint of resources.
With numerous complaints of 911 calls going unanswered, there are also reports suggesting that when a call is successful, sometimes the caller is given a number of the nearest Police station. These can only be deemed as unacceptable. Shouldn’t there be mandatory internal investigations and the findings be made public? Also unacceptable, is the lack of sustained interventions in areas known as crime havens and those that harbour criminals.
These areas exist and it would be folly to assume that the Police are unaware. There is a particular one on East Bank Demerara, which, its own residents and those from nearby villages, have bemoaned the ongoing spate of crime during which some lives have been lost. The area is raided sporadically, either to appease or when a fatal crime occurs. Residents firmly believe that the Police may be aware of the situation and probably have knowledge of harden criminals who shelter within the area.
The seeming lack of sustained action may have led residents to believe that some ranks may allegedly be emboldening the criminals. With a senior officer currently under investigation for allegedly aiding and abetting criminals, it may not be too farfetched for residents of that particular area to feel that way. Why then, are responses extremely slow or absent? Why then, are known suspects reportedly roaming freely? How can daily robberies go unchecked?
Those are questions that the residents ask every day as they live in constant fear. Any suspicion of snitching can incur a brutal response reminiscent of Buxton years back when the village was held to ransom by a few heavily-armed gunmen. Ironically, when a particular crime occurs, the Police very often can say who may have been responsible and where the suspect can be possibly found.
What then, prevents sustained interventions or presence in high-risk areas? What prevents a response in the first place? Is it fear on the Police’s part? If that’s the scenario, then relief will remain elusive. Would that explain the seeming ineffectiveness of the CCTV cameras? One can only hope the cries herein can be effective.