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According to a police press release, a 20-year-old security guard accidentally shot himself and a 15-year-old vendor, who was an innocent bystander, on Wednesday January 18, 2023 on Robb Street in the vicinity of Bourda Market, Georgetown. It was further reported that the security guard told investigators that he took out the firearm, a Taurus 9mm pistol, from the waist of his pants to clear it when a shot accidentally went off.
It was revealed that the security guard was not a Supernumerary Constable and therefore was not legally authorised to carry a firearm. He is alleged to have told the police that he was not trained to use a firearm and was employed by the security company two weeks before the incident.
Based on information, private security companies allowing untrained persons who are not Supernumerary Constables to carry firearms is more widespread than the authorities are aware of, or would admit.
It is left to be seen what action will be taken against the security company that was responsible for giving an untrained person who is not a Supernumerary Constable a firearm. I have a strong suspicion that based on connections no proper action will be taken in this matter. This will be another disturbing incident marked “NFA” (No Further Action) thrown in some corner.
Readers may recall several other recent incidents which clearly shows that something is definitely wrong with the way in which the mushrooming private security companies operate, especially in relation to the use of firearms.
There was a report that a 22 year old man was in a critical condition after he was shot by a security guard outside a supermarket at Diamond East Bank Demerara. This is alleged to have taken place after the man who was causing a ruckus attacked the guard. The police responded, arrested the security guard and seized the AR rifle with which he was armed.
It was reported that a guard at a popular hotel was arrested after he shot one of his co-worker with a 9mm pistol during a disagreement in the parking lot of the said hotel. This is alleged to have occurred during a tiff between the two men over vehicles parked in the driveway.
Yet another report stated that a 45 year old security guard was arrested after he shot three persons in an attempt to calm a disorderly customer at a supermarket in the Greater Georgetown area.
More recently, it was reported that eleven (11) firearms and a quantity of assorted ammunition were stolen for the office of a security company in Carmichael Street, Georgetown. It is not clear if all the stolen items were recovered.
Those are just a few of the disturbing incidents involving private security companies, which clearly shows that something is definitely wrong with the manner in which many private security companies are currently operating.
During May 2022, the Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn, acting Commissioner of Police, Clifton Hicken, along with other senior officers of the Guyana Police Force met with representatives of private security companies. During the reported three hours interaction the minister is reported to have called on the services to be compliant with the “established rules and guidelines and will not be allowed to operate in any ad hoc or unprofessional manner as there will be consequences.”
The acting Commissioner is reported to have told the private security companies that “after today’s engagement there must be a positive change in behaviour, posture and professionalism in all private security services in Guyana”. He also stated that “security firms must do a complete background check when hiring personnel as this will help to ensure you protect and maintain the image of your organisation and by extension your clients and our country.”
Having regards to all that have taken place since that interaction it would appear that it was just talk designed to convey the impression that something was being done.
I wish to call on the Minister of Home Affairs to immediately cause a comprehensive audit of all private security companies. This must include the criteria for establishing a security company, the qualification of the principal officers, recruitment and training, storage of firearms, the number of firearms companies are allowed to have, uniforms and other aspects that will ensure that the companies are compliant with the relevant laws.
Traversing Georgetown and seeing the many “security personnel” armed with an assortment of firearms, including assault rifles can be frightening. The fact that many of those persons may not be adequately trained is horrifying.
I stated previously that many persons who are authorised to carry firearms, including police ranks and private security personnel, lack the necessary training to do so. The circumstances surrounding the cases listed above, and many others, demand an urgent review of the protocols governing the issuing and use of firearms by private security personnel.
It is time that the Minister of Home Affairs and the Acting Commissioner of Police awake from their slumber and address this worrying issue. Perhaps they are waiting for more catastrophic incidents like what took place at Huntley Mahaicony on New Year’s Day (the killing of Detective Corporal Dwayne McPherson and Kishan Bugburgh) before they act.