Acting Commissioner of Police Enville Williams has highlighted to officers the importance of crime scene management to the outcome of criminal investigations.
“The manner in which police officers, as first responders, secure a crime scene speaks volumes about the trajectory of the investigation going forward,” Williams told the 30 police officers undergoing training in crime scene management.
“I implore you to not only soak in the knowledge that you are going to receive from this training but incorporate it into your daily lives and practice as police officers.”
The officers are undergoing training in crime scene management, facilitated by experts from the Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (CARICOM IMPACS) and the Regional Security System (RSS) in collaboration with the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (RSVGPF).
The training began on Tuesday with an opening ceremony at the Argyle Fire Station Training Room.
Detective acting Assistant Commissioner of Police, Trevor Bailey told the participants that the crime scene speaks to the investigator so long as the science of policing is used properly.
“I want you to take this training seriously. When you arrive at a crime scene, you might meet a dead person. You have to have a conversation with the deceased person,” Bailey told the trainees.
“You must be able to apply the science, techniques, and all of the skills that you gather during this training to have that conversation with a … crime scene and make it speak to you.
“In other words, as police officers, sometimes we are asked to perform the impossible. But that is our duty. In reality, a dead man cannot have a conversation. But you must ask questions of the crime scene and if you know what to do, it will speak to you.”
Chief of Operations at CARICOM IMPACS, Andre Clarke, said it is unfortunate that serious and organised crimes such as gun crimes and shootings continue to increase in the region.
He stated however that as criminals and criminal networks evolve and become more innovative and agile in tandem with societal changes, so must law enforcement also.
“How our police officers and other first responders manage scenes of crime is critical to the judicial disposal of these perpetrators,” Clarke said.
He said the fact is that if a crime scene is mismanaged, there is a direct impact on the efficacy of the investigation and inevitably, the outcome in the court.
“The mismanagement of crime scenes is an inadvertent complement to the defence and a gift to offenders. Simultaneously, the mishandling of crime scenes and compromise of forensics and exhibits is a failure on our part to the victims and their families,” Clarke said.
He gave the assurance that CARICOM IMPACS and its Executive Director Lieutenant Colonel Michael Jones stand shoulder to shoulder with all member states of CARICOM in the fight against crime.
“And we look forward to working with the officers of the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force,” he said.
Director of Policing and Risk Management at RSS, Major Kerry Waterman told the participants that during the three-day training course the facilitators will solidify the training in crime scene management.
“This training is important because when you get it right, you get the credit and commendation. When it goes wrong, this is where things roll downhill. People will scrutinise you and ask where did you go wrong,” Waterman said.
“The legal system does not give us two bites at the cherry. When you get it wrong, the criminals get off and are able to continue to commit crimes. We do not want that.”
And, delivering the keynote address, Attorney General Grenville Williams delivered a wide-ranging address to the trainees, touching on the responsibility of the police to take care of their resources and assets, managing crime, community policing, communication, crime scene management, evidence collection, and among others, preservation.
He thanked the police officers for their service to the country saying that their work is important.
“You serve the people of SVG very well and on most occasions, you are not given the credit. We will hear the negative when the police fail to do something or whenever there is a perception that the police did not do something right. I want you to know that you are performing a very important role on behalf of all the people of SVG,” Williams said.
He said the first mission of all Vincentians should be to aim for a society with limited crime — a society where there is respect for life and where conflict resolution is at the core of our DNA and psyche.
He spoke of the various ways in which the police and society can manage, mitigate, and reduce crime.
“Firstly, there must be a clear national policy and strategy for the police force to combat crime. And this must be supported by a clear and flexible plan. There must be a programme of continuous professional development. While your initial training is important, in order for you to be professional at your job, there must be a systematic programme of training and development. It is also my view that this training and development must be taken into consideration when persons are being considered for promotion.”
The attorney general said that sometimes, the question is asked, “Where are the police?”
“It is important that your presence is felt,” he said, adding that he noticed that there are a few patrols taking place in Kingstown.
“It is important that the public feel your presence. I believe that the mere presence of a marked police vehicle on the road will make an impact. For example, if a driver is speeding on the road and he/she sees a police vehicle in the distance, that will change his/her behaviour and conduct.”
On the issue concerning community policing, Williams said it is a vital crime-fighting initiative.
“Going out into the community is very important. Many people may say that there are delinquent persons sitting on the blocks who may be up to no good. But I want you to ask yourselves as police officers ‘How often do I go on the block and sit with those guys and find out what is their perspective?’ If I see you as a police officer and I am on the block and I don’t feel an association or connection with you, why would I cooperate with you?” Williams said.
He said he was not asking police officers to condone delinquent or bad behaviour but to “develop a rapport with the members of the community and they would feel a sense of responsibility for keeping the peace in SVG.”