On Monday September 10, 2018, Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr. Hon. Ralph Gonsalves held a very fruitful discussion with Commissioner of Police, Mr. Colin John, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr. Frankie Joseph and the rest of the Police High Command including Coast Guard Commander Brenton Caine, the gazette officer’s corps and the rank and file of the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force at the Old Montrose Police Lecture Hall.
The Prime Minister was accompanied to the meeting by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Mr. Godfred Pompey, which was attended by approximately 280 police officers.
The Prime Minister in his address to the gathering urged the officers to be knowledgeable about their duties and responsibilities and the powers vested in them by the laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines as Police Officers.
He expressed the view that every police officer should seek to enforce and uphold the laws of the land no matter what department, division or station they are attached. Touching on the current issue of ‘noise’ and the Noise Act, Dr. Gonsalves advised the officers present that not because they may not work at the Traffic Department, it does not mean that they should turn a blind eye to traffic offences that are committed or any other offences for that matter. He stressed that the portfolio of every police officer should incorporate all of the duties offences encapsulated in the Police Act and the Criminal Code respectively.
Touching on the issue of crime and crime fighting, the Minister of National Security commented on the resources that have been provided to the constabulary to fight crime. According to the Prime Minister, Police Officers are trained on a continuous basis both locally and internationally. He touched on the increase in the police establishment which is close to 900 officers and the construction of a refurbishing of several police stations throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadines. He stated that all of these initiatives are geared toward improving the crime fighting strategies and response capabilities of the Police Force.
The Prime Minister lamented the need for police officers to practice effective community policing. He advised them not to stay in the stations but to go out in the communities to ‘meet and greet’ the residents; and by so doing, the public trust in the police will be improved thereby allowing for more productive “police/public partnership. This according the Prime Minister will augur well for crime fighting in the country. He urged the officers to be advocators of the organization’s agenda, not contrary towards it.
Prime Minister Gonslaves admonished police officers to take time out to prepare their case files in a more professional and timely manner. He went on to say that an incomplete or under investigated casefile gives the defense the upper hand during a trial and as a result the perpetrator of the crime(s) can walk free all because the casefile was not properly investigated.
Dr. Gonslaves outlined some of the reforms that are currently taking place in the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force with regards to recruitment and training of new police officers entering the organization.
According the Prime Minister, the current policy that is followed is that once a recruit is enlisted into the force, he immediately takes the oath of office and becomes a police officer before he/she commences the initial training at the Police Training School. This according the him has posed some problems overtime to the leadership of the Police Force because some recruits after they were enlisted failed to display the kind of attitude that is required to be a Police Officer.
The Prime Minister used the opportunity to inform the audience that based on recommendations from the Commissioner of Police and his high command, the recruitment policy will be change whereby all new recruits will take the oath of office only after he/she has successfully completed training at the police training school and also exudes the required attitude and aptitude to hold the office of a police officer. The Prime Minister also announced that in the new policy, the probationary period for a recruit will increase from 18 months to 2 years. According the to the Prime Minister, a recruit might have most of the qualities sought after by the police, but lack the mental discipline that drives a police officer. This draft policy according to the Prime Minister has been taken to parliament already for debate.
Commissioner of Police, Mr. Colin John in making brief remarks at the meeting welcomed the Hon. Prime Minister and urged his officers to be attentive and open in their discussions with the Hon. Prime Minister.