Independence Message by Mr. Colin O. John, LLB Hons
Commissioner of Police
Happy 39th Anniversary of Independence!
“The police are the public and the public are the police. The police, being the only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.” This quotation was made famous and is usually attributed to Sir Robert Peel, the father of modern policing. In this independence message, I will address the issue of interdependence between the police and the public.
I thank all of those working in our police force for the courage and determination they have shown in keeping us safe over the past year. I am proud of the dedicated police officers who, through their daily activities, strive to provide the highest quality of police services to the communities we serve.
The essence of a community is its people. Therefore, creating a safe country conducive to productivity, recreation and freedom is at the core of our modus operandi. A Vincentian Police officer’s first duty is to protect others. Police officers make decisions based on a philosophy called “priorities of life” and that often means putting others before themselves. Risking their own lives to protect someone is reflected daily and continuously throughout the career of every officer. I ask every citizen to recognize that policing isn’t the black and white veneer of a legislative code. It is the role of an officer to carry out the intent of law and understand the core concepts of our constitution. Above all else, protecting fundamental human rights is our innate duty and is the basis for how we exercise the responsibility we are charged with by you, our country.
Fellow Vincentians, over the last year, the Police have significantly intensified its efforts to fight crimes and violence in SVG. To fulfil this mission, the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (RSVGPF) took a proactive stance in response to crime through education of the public, utilization of crime prevention techniques and enforcement efforts. Various programmes such as the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) Programme, Pan against Crime, Police Youth Clubs, neighbourhood watch and training and development of the force’s human resource are employed to enhance community involvement and provide the power of knowledge and transparency of your police force. These are complemented by crime prevention exhibitions, strategic community patrols, investigating reports, arresting and prosecuting offenders. Vital to the success of these initiatives is the quality of information provided by the ordinary members of the public. The RSVGPF recognizes this service and continue to create avenues for the safety and ease of providing information which remains a key priority. Hence, our policies and programmes which change the way the police operate, make better use of new technology whilst continuing to focus on the value of community policing, will help deliver better efficiencies and an improved service to the public.
Ladies and gentlemen, law enforcement must have the support and involvement of the community to be successful. We recognize and appreciate the support that the citizens of SVG provide us each day. I encourage all citizens to get involved by reporting suspicious circumstances, crimes in progress, and by cooperating with police officers in their investigations. A concerned public and a professional police force are the keys to a low crime rate and a high quality of life. The public has been very instrumental in the successes of the police force over the past year. And to their credit, we were able to effect seven arrests out of the last eight homicides that were committed. Through the public’s partnership with the police, we made 21 gun arrests. These are illegal guns that were used in committing crimes and would have been used again if they were not confiscated by the Police. In addition to that, the Police made 279 drug arrests. Additionally, the police in collaboration with the Financial Investigations Unit (FIU) forfeited, confiscated and or seized over EC$700,000 in cash through the law courts over the last year.
Building upon our past successes within community policing, the RSVGPF is committed to a geographic-policing philosophy that addresses crime and the fear of crime through a shared relationship between citizens and police officers in their specific neighbourhoods. This is proactively achieved using proven problem-solving methods and partnerships to elevate the quality of life in our neighbourhoods. We invite you to become involved with the RSVPF in order to continue forging a strong, cooperative partnership that is built upon mutual trust and respect. No police force can solve crime or quality of life issues on its own. Effective community/police relationships, communication, and engagement are critical components to our success.
We encourage input from the community on law enforcement and quality of life issues. I want the citizens of SVG to “move toward the badge, not away from the badge”. We will continue to foster the relationships we have established and build new ones; where police officers and citizens can work together. Ultimately, we all share the same goal – to reduce crime and provide a better quality of life for our families, friends, and citizens. We need to work not just in partnership, but in concert with community organisations and groups. Together we can continue to respond to the needs of our country through “out-of-the-box” approaches and find solutions to address the root of larger social challenges. It is from such conversations and efforts the ideas and programmes will evolve which will create success in maintaining our path forward. Thus, through collaboration and cooperation, we can reach our goals! We shall strive to establish a climate of mutual respect and trust through positive interaction with citizens. We value your concerns, comments and input.
On this our 39th year of independence, I hope that patriotism and concern to others reign in the heart of each police officer. Let us do our jobs in the right way, avoid getting involved in anomalous activities, and always think that we are one with the authorities in bringing a peaceful and progressive change. Let us continue to serve faithfully to eliminate illegal drugs, illegal guns, and criminality in our country. Let us uphold the human rights of every Vincentian for them to be able to live freely in a peaceful and orderly community.
On behalf of the men and women of the RSVGPF, I wish to thank you, the citizens of SVG, for your continual support of our force. Be assured that you have a dedicated group of professionals willing to do whatever it takes to serve you and keep you safe. Together we can make a notable difference in our communities.
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].