On Sunday March 1, 2020, the rural village of Vermont was in the spotlight as the host village for the Pan against Crime 12th anniversary concert. Scores of villages came out to witness the event which began with a praise and worship segment by the Peniston Apostolic Faith Mission Church and a sermonette by Assistant Pastor Bro. Timothy Myle. This was followed by several performances by Police Band, students of the Dubois Government and Buccament Bay Secondary Schools, Little Eagle Pre-School, Vermont Adolescent Group, the Vermont Police Youth Club and sweet pan music by the Symphonix Steel Orchestra and Epic Sounds Steel Orchestras respectively.
During the celebration, the Vermont Police Youth Club was officially launched; making it the twenty fourth (24th) such club to have been launched under the auspices of the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force and the Pan against Crime by extension.
There were brief remarks from persons who have been playing pivotal roles in the pan against crime initiative including; Ms. La Teisha Sandy, Director of the National Commission on Crime Prevention (NCCP), Commissioner of Police, Mr. Colin John and Hon. Cecil Mc Kie, Minister of Sports, Tourism and Culture.
In her remarks, Ms. Sandy stated that as citizens of St. Vincent and the Grenadines it is very important that everyone play their part in preventing crime.
According to Ms. Sandy, many persons have cell phones and one of the recent trends that is very disheartening to see is that persons prefer to stand and record acts of violence being perpetrated against another person, then share the video instead of lending a helping hand to pacify the situation. She went on to say that some persons have become so desensitized that they would sit by and look at things happening to persons around them and do nothing about it.
Ms. Sandy went on “We have to return to a time when we feel bad in playing a role when we see someone is being hurt, for sitting by and justify these acts of violence against other people. When victims come forward and speak out, we need to be mindful about victim shaming,”
She reminded the gathering not to the share the names of the perpetrators because you do not want them to be popular, it is not about them. Instead, she said to highlight the good lives the victims live.
“If you want violence to stop, let’s stop sharing and excusing the idiotic things people do” Said Ms. Sandy. She reminded the gathering that there are younger persons looking on who are taking a step in the right direction. She implored the adults to be good role models to the young people by speaking out against crime and violence and cease from the practice of victim shaming.
In his address, Commissioner of Police, Mr. Colin John stated that the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force fully endorses the Pan against Crime initiative. He expressed that fighting crime is the vested interest of the police organization and the pan against crime programme is one programme that aids the police organization in doing so.
The commissioner posits that like the DARE Programme, the Pan against Crime programme has proven to a pertinent tool in preventative policing. These programmes according to him, are not the only initiatives that are being pushed by the police organization. He highlighted the several other programmes that are organized annually by the Coast Guard, Police Band and the Police Youth Clubs; which have all together seen participants in excess of 2000 young people.
The Commissioner noted that in addition to aiding in the reduction against crime, there are other practical benefits that can be derived from the pan against crime programme such as - learning to play an instrument; creating an outlet for physical exercise and; creating an avenue for employment and generating income. He said that many of the young people who have participated in the police summer programmes have grown up to be very prominent and citizens and role models.
Commissioner expressed gratitude to the parents and PC 864 Malcom, coordinator of the Vermont Police Youth Club for their effort and time in making the 24th launch of a police youth club a successful one. He especially thanked the parents for entrusting the police with their children and assured them that the organization will do everything in its power to keep the children safe and to guide them in the right direction.
The Commissioner disclosed that joining a police youth club can serve as a stepping stone for young people to ultimately become members of the police force. According to him the clubs are used as a pool from which person are recruited to join the organization.
In conclusion, he cautioned his audience that the police alone cannot prevent and fight. He thanked those communities that have partnered with the police in forming Nieghbourhood Watch Groups to help safeguard residents.
The commissioner also congratulated the Vermont Police Youth Club on its successful launch and wished the Pan against Crime initiative perpetual existence. He culminated his remarks by asking the Public to maintain their faith in the organization, and encouraged them to continue to assist the police in its fight against crime.
The keynote address was delivered by Hon. Cecil McKie, Minister of Tourism, Sports and Culture and Parliamentary Representative for the Constituency of West St. George. The minister apologized for the absence of Prime Minister Dr. Hon. Ralph and lamented on the fact that the Pan against Crime initiative was the brainchild of the Honorable Prime Minister.
Minister Mc kie commended the Pan against Crime Programme and congratulated the Symphonix Steel Orchestra for being the very first band to have been formed out of the initiative. He said that the young people are playing a pivotal role as far as the productive sectors of St. Vincent and the Grenadines are concerned. He said security is very important for the nation as well because persons living within our communities and those visiting SVG must feel safe in order for us to have a productive society and prosper.
According to Minister Mc Kie, the Government of SVG under the leadership of Prime Minister Dr. Hon. Ralph Gonsalves in 2007 in his wisdom saw the importance of the productive sector among the youths and the security of the nation. As a result, the creation of the policy to start the Pan against Crime programme primarily to steer the young people of the nation on a positive path free from crime and violence was created.
Minister Mc Kie recounted that about 20 or 25 years ago there were very few steel bands throughout SVG and the word pan was “taboo”, especially among elderly persons within the society. But according to him, through the initiative and because of the effectiveness of the programme, it was able to do much more than inspire the youths but it has also revived pan music in SVG.
Minister Mc Kie went on to state that there are approximately twenty (20) junior pan sides throughout the schools and communities of St. Vincent and the Grenadines encapsulating over 600 young persons. In addition, he said that coupled with the eight (8) senior pan sides, there are over 1000 persons engaged in playing the pan instrument throughout the country.
The Minister said the Pan against Crime which is celebrating its twelfth anniversary has turned out 15 steel orchestras and the Vermont Police Youth Club is the twenty-fourth club to be established. He went on to state that Pan against Crime has touched every community throughout the length and breadth of the country to include the Grenadines. He said that pan is an integral part of the society which encapsulates the hotel industry, weddings, funerals, restaurants celebrations etc to ensure the growth and development within the country in the aspect of tourism.
Minister Mc Kie disclosed said that Sports against Crime programme will collaborate with the Pan against Crime initiative where they will be having four (4) major concerts in 2020. He further stated that the young people within all fifteen constituencies will be impacted by the Pan against Crime and Sport against Crime initiatives with the aim and objective of taking them away from the part of crime.
Minister Mc Kie thank all persons present for coming out in support of the collaboration between the Pan Against Crime committee and the police for the work that they have been doing to implement and sustain the policy initiatives of the Government known as Pan against Crime and the Police Youth Clubs. In closing, Minister Mc Kie urged the youths to stay away from a life of crime and violence and become fully productive citizens of St. Vincent and the Grenadines