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By Sheldon Bramble

There are crimes but no criminals identified. Disappearances of young women, but no explanations offered to the informed public other than that they are found. Loud music in the van, but no one dares to say how uncomfortable they are feeling. Speeding vehicles overtaking in the most dangerous of places, but no one keeping accountability. Such are the characteristics of these times in Vincy. 

There has been a culture of emotional blackmailing of the public into silence in SVG for decades now and it has ripened into a society where lives are being lost and the rights of people are trampled upon. There are consequences to opening your mouth. Not even “old people” can speak out nowadays. Speaking up has gone out of style because it means you might become a target. No one wants to be labelled a snitch for fear of retaliation. 

In light of this, we wonder why law enforcement in this country are not empowering citizens more to safely express themselves to fight crime and antisocial behaviour. It leaves one to conclude that there is weakness and inefficiency in the system. After all, criminals seem smarter than policemen when we are having so many unsolved crimes. Or is it that we have persons posing as law enforcement who are too unprepared to address crime, turning their eyes the other way or participating passively in criminal activity. This would mean that the saying that ‘the upholder is worse than the thief’ applies and therefore they also are criminals. We pray however that this is not the case in SVG. 

Policemen, are you respecting the public you serve transparently and clearly and giving them a real listening ear with respect and attention? A lack of this is something that has been annoying the public for too long with the local police. The old-school schoolmaster’s attitude nonsense. There is leading and control, and there is listening and respecting. They are not the same thing and ought to be in careful balance. Otherwise, we see the case where people in authority are not educated about how to execute that authority and confuse it with “massa mentality”. Then there is also the case of a lack of confidentiality. These are preventing more of the public, especially our youth from engaging law enforcement.

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It’s nice to hear about the Police Band in Grenada recently representing us with their independence celebrations and the police youth clubs. But these are not their priority currently as an entity. Crime solving and prevention are.  

How can law enforcement give voices back to the law-abiding public who have been afraid to talk or who have no one they feel safe talking to? This is a crucial question for them to study and answer if they want things to improve. 

Everybody in SVG knows about the general reputation of many local police officers. They urgently and seriously need to improve their image and foster approachability and greater cooperation from the public. The public has a right to question whether corruption in law enforcement is playing out in criminal activity. And if this is the case, there needs to be a safe avenue citizens can utilise to report and address this without fear and a loss of security.

The partnering of law enforcement with moral leaders is also another way to give voices to the public. Working closely with ministers of religion, school principals, teachers and counselling and mentoring organisations is also crucial to this. Youths may be more comfortable relaying information through and to another authority figure other than an intimidating police officer. There needs to be a public campaign to create effective chains of information passing from citizens to law enforcement. 

Social media and hotlines also need to become more visible and accessible to anyone to report information, upload texts, voice messages and videos to law enforcement. Where can I report different categories of crime or anti-social behaviour? Where can I report a disturbance in my neighbourhood? Where can I request patrolling if I see suspicious movements in my neighbourhood? Are these numbers clearly visibly everywhere and phone lines manned by professionals who take such reports seriously? It is not enough to say they exist. They need to be common knowledge and user friendly to the average citizen. 

There also needs to be a list of sex offenders and their photographs available to the public. This as well as other criminals in order to foster more cooperation between law enforcement and Vincentians. 

The time for excuses is long gone in SVG. People are dying at an alarming rate. Crime is becoming a defining word for SVG. Law enforcement, help the Vincentian people you serve and protect to find their voices. Let it become normal for us to have the opportunity to relate to you with decorum and mutual respect. 

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

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