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Greene promises action on Berbice crime wave

-Rose Hall Outpost for upgrading

Crime Chief Henry Greene

Following weeks of incessant crime, Crime Chief Henry Greene yesterday promised Berbice businessmen to shake up the Police's 'B' Division by transferring and removing some officers at the Rose Hall Outpost and increasing roadblocks in the area.

Greene's promise came during a meeting he and other 'B' Division top brass held with members of the Central Corentyne Chambers of Commerce (CCCC), who have publicly chided the police over the wave of armed robberies of citizens and businesses and their poor handling of the situation, among other things.

Greene also undertook to have individual complaints investigated and acted upon immediately.

Armed robberies have soared in Berbice over the past three months with at least one robbery a day (see other story on this page).

According to a statement from the CCCC, at its statutory meeting held on February 24, members expressed anger and frustration to Regional Chairman Kumkarran Ramdass at the "seemingly impotent responses by the Berbice police to control the numerous armed robberies that are taking place" in the county.

The chairman was told that it was totally unacceptable and inexcusable to receive the well-worn excuse of only "one policeman at the station" in spite of the fact that the government was making more and more resources available to the police. The CCCC cited a recent armed robbery where the perpetrators spent over 45 minutes at the victims' premises. People called the police and they were told there was only one rank at the Albion station and at Rose Hall Outpost. The statement said members were also quite upset that the Rose Hall Outpost was not maintaining regular police patrols in view of the rising number of armed robberies being committed in the town and in Central Corentyne in recent weeks.

The CCCC said it was pacifying residents who were once again threatening to take protest action. Previous action several years ago had culminated in a deadly protest and the storming of a police station.

At the meeting of February 24, Ramdass promised the CCCC that he would get Commander of 'B' Division Ivelaw Whittaker to meet its members; yesterday he succeeded in getting Greene and other top brass of 'B' Division.

Yesterday's meeting was held at the Lion's Den in Hampshire, Corentyne. The CCCC statement said members had open and frank discussions with Green and the other officers. Among the issues raised were: the lack of police response to reports of crimes in progress; lack of civility and professionalism in the force; unavailability of police officers and police vehicles; general inaction by the members in investigating reports made and a host of other issues.

Greene, according to the statement, was surprised at the number of CCCC members who were victims of armed robberies; one of them had been robbed four times in the last 18 months. He promised that there would be an upgrade of the Rose Hall Police Outpost, which includes staff and equipment, increased mobile police patrols with constant supervision, Aberdeen patrols, foot patrols in the Rose Hall area during specified hours, transfer and removal of certain police ranks and increased roadblocks.

Apart from the spiralling robberies in Region Six (East Berbice Corentyne), the crime spree has also included murders and armed pirate attacks on fishermen.

On January 11, three armed bandits robbed Belvedere Inn Hotel and Bar located at Independence Avenue, Rose Hall. The bandits had confronted and stuck up the watchman of the business and forced him to lie face down. They then broke into the building and carted off one stereo set, two amplifiers and other articles and $7000.

On January 24, armed bandits struck twice robbing two businesses. In one of the robberies, three bandits - two armed with handguns - robbed Deonarine Bipta of Islington East Bank Berbice of over $50,000 in cash and jewellery.

The next day three bandits - all armed with handguns - robbed a grocery and variety store at Adelphi Settlement East Canje Berbice. Businessman Papas Sanichar and his wife were in the lower flat of their house when the bandits entered from the top floor and robbed them. The robbers carted away an undisclosed sum of cash from a drawer and the family's cellular phone. The bandits also beat the family before making good their escape.

In that same week, six masked bandits terrorised and robbed Berbice businessman Shaheed Baksh of over $100,000 in cash and jewellery. Baksh, of Number 19 Village, Corentyne his wife and a male relative were sitting outside the shop when the bandits entered.

As recent as February 9, bandits were busy robbing two businesses, including the Ainlim New Amsterdam's office where over $1M in cash and bank cheques were stolen. The day before five of them stormed a Lancaster, Corentyne poultry farm grabbing chickens and robbing two watchmen of over $2,300. The police said the bandits confronted and tied up the two watchmen Bishram and Patrick Peters and robbed them of $2,260 and $180 respectively.

Then a cutlass-toting bandit was shot by police that same week in New Amsterdam after he and another man challenged two constables at the New Amsterdam market. Last week Wednesday a Corriverton couple was robbed by three armed bandits of US$1,500, Cdn$700 and around $100,000. The bandits had invaded their liquor bar.

Earlier that day a cattle farmer in the area was also robbed of $20,000 and a quantity of jewellery by a lone armed bandit.

Then last Friday police exchanged gunfire with armed robbers during a botched robbery near the Rose Hall Market.

Two men with handguns had held up Robin Prasad, a jeweller of Rose Hall and took away a bag of jewellery. During a high-speed chase between the bandits and the police, the robbers dropped the bag and fled.