Commissioner of Police Colin John has told the recruits who graduated from the police training school last Thursday of the importance of discipline.
John said that discipline affects time management and time management could mean the difference between whether someone lives or dies.
He told the 115 recruits that they are among the “fortunate few” who were selected to join the constabulary, as since 2015, over 5,000 people have applied to become police officers.
“And from that, we had the arduous task of choosing just about 100 persons, and you’re one of the fortunate few. So I hope that you will utilise that opportunity given to you and that you would not in any way erode the confidence that is bestowed on you by the persons who chose you to be police officers,” John told the 40th Passing Out Parade at Victoria Park, in Kingstown.
He noted that the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force is a disciplinary organisation.
“Discipline is very encompassing. It ranges from proper time management, to confidentiality. Proper time management or time management can determine literally if a person lives or die.”
John said that, first of all, police officers must turn up to work and do so on time.
“If there’s an incident at Heritage Square and we need a police officer to respond and because you’re late there’s no one to respond, that can determine if a person lives or dies, because that small argument can develop into a fight and develop into someone being fatally injured,” the police chief said.
He said that discipline also involves respect for authority.
“You must be willing to accept instructions and you must be also willing to accept correction. No one is infallible. And when you are being corrected, you must accept it gracefully,” John said.
Discipline also involves confidentiality, John said, adding that “in recent times … documents or information that is not to be posted on social media or divulged to persons are being divulged”.
He said this is an issue for other police forces “and these are things that we have to stamp out.
“The Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, we have a social media policy that prohibits persons from posting things that they are not authorised to post and some persons who have breached that law or breached those standing orders, they faced disciplinary action,” John said.
“I hope that you don’t have to learn by your own actions, but you’re able to look at what took place before you and you will not fall prey to things of that nature.”
John, a lawyer and former prosecutor, said that discipline also involves continuous learning.
“You are given a job now, but that should not be the end of your professional development. The government, through its several policies, and the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, we are encouraging persons to further their education. By doing that, you can make yourself more marketable, you can vie for a higher position in the organisation.”
He said that some people, after enlisting, “pay scant regard to their personal and professional development.
“I am encouraging you not to be one of those persons.”
He said that police officers “have to be assertive yet not aggressive”.
The police chief said that police officers have to know their job so that they would not “quake” whenever someone says, “I’m going to call my lawyer.”
“Oftentimes, when they tell me, ‘I’m going to call a lawyer’, I say, ‘Well, you can call 10’, because I know that I’m on the right footing and I know regardless of who they call, it’s not going to change anything. So, you have to learn the job and you have to know what you are about.”
He told officers that they have to be respectful to people.
“The citizens, they’re paying you and you have to, at all times, deliver a professional product to the public. Discipline also involves integrity,” he said.
He pointed out some police officers whose behaviour has fallen far below the standard of a professional police officer have had to part ways with the constabulary.
“Your stay in the police force significantly depends on you. The height to which you reach or do not reach significantly depends on you. So, integrity is integral to your upward mobility and your general stay in the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force.”