Independence Message by Colin O. John, Commissioner of Police
To say that the year 2020 was a challenging and unprecedented one will be a gross understatement. This is true for the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Caribbean and the World.
Some of the issues we faced were the Covid-19 Pandemic; the drought in the first and second quarter of the year; and an increase in the attempts of some of our neighbours, to enter St. Vincent and the Grenadines by other means than that of the authorized and legal routes.
The COVID-19 pandemic has stretched our resources. We were called upon to assist the Ministry of Health in the enforcing of the COVID-19 Protocols. This was indeed an overwhelming task, as strict measures had to be implemented to ensure that persons remained in mandatory quarantine for the stipulated period, so as to control and limit the spread of the virus. Precautionary measures were also undertaken to ensure that persons assigned to perform these duties were not infected.
During this period under review, the Coast Guard Service ably and effectively patrolled our waters and intercepted several criminals from entering our shores. If these criminals were to enter St. Vincent and the Grenadines, this could have resulted in an uncontrolled spread of the virus among our citizens and an increase the number of criminal activities.
The inability of members of the organisation to travel overseas for training was also a challenge. This was however mitigated by the innovative use of online training. We also embarked on several local training and refreshers courses for police officers including: Handling Sexual Offences, Basic Development Course, SVG Coast Guard/Regional Security Basic Seamanship Course among others.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to cancel all of our annual summer programmes but we were able to host our first-ever virtual crime prevention exhibition. This was a tremendous success. In addition, the Public Relations and Complaints Department in the RSVGFP launched a new interactive live programme on its Face Book page called “Care. Serve. Protect. This is an additional medium with which the police and the public can continue to build interact and build synergies.
We have face challenges and no doubt we will experience many more. However, as a resilient people and Organisation, we have and will continue to face these challenges head on.
The second line of our National Anthem states: “Our Faith will see us through”. Our faith has indeed seen us through. We have faith in God for sparing us through this Covid -19 Pandemic. Thus far, there is zero death from COVID-19 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. There is also faith in the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for providing us with the resources during this Pandemic.
All of the Police Stations are equipped with the necessary COVID-19 prevention measures and supplies; ranging from hand washing stations to sanitizers and face masks.
The RSVGPF is very grateful to the government, stakeholders and business enterprises for their generous donations to the organisation during 2020. I wish to highlight out the addition of the new vessel SVG 05 Balliceaux to the Coast Guard fleet. This will drastically improve the medevac services from the Grenadines to mainland, St. Vincent.
Our faith in the government has also yielded an increase in the membership of the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, through the intake of 77 new recruits. This is on the heels of 109 who were recruited in 2019.
Challenges will come, the waters may be uncharted, but we are reminded that through it all, we have learnt to trust in Jesus, we have learned to trust in God. During 2020, we lost four police officers. It was not an easy time for the organization but we endured by the grace of God. I wish to thank the government, the public and private sectors, non-governmental organisations, faith-based organisations and citizens generally for your support and partnership during 2020.
May God bless us all!
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].