In his message to the Church at Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul encouraged the members this way “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thes 5:18). Paul’s words spoken thousands of years ago are relevant today more than ever. Indeed, as a people, we must give thanks to God in-spite of our circumstances in life; be it good or bad.
Fellow Vincentians, the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (RSVGPF) has many things to be thankful for. As an organization, we have so far in 2020, experienced the sad loss of four (4) Police Officers, namely; ASP Daniel Hall, Sgt. 209 Philbert Chambers and Constables 342 Daniele Daisy and 918 Shorn Westfield. This to my mind has never occurred before in recent history. But amidst the loss of our colleagues – we are thankful for those who still remain. One of the goals of the organization in 2021 is to erect a permanent memorial for Officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. A location for this memorial has already been identified.
2020 is a year that would forever be etched in the memory of those who experienced the COVID-19 pandemic, which has and continues to wreak havoc on people’s way of life all over the world – including St. Vincent and Grenadines. The RSVGPF was also adversely affected by the effects of the pandemic. In addition to acting as First Responders on the front-lines fighting the virus, we were forced to cancel all our summer programmes. We had to drastically modify our Police procedures to mitigate the spread of the deadly virus among our ranks and the wider population.
Our overseas human resource capacity building programmes all but ceased because of the pandemic. But while the pandemic caused tremendous setbacks, it also created numerous opportunities. One such opportunity was the hosting of our first ever Virtual Crime Prevention Exhibition. Based on the reviews, this was one of the most successful exhibitions ever produced by the RSVGPF. The valuable crime prevention information and tips were able to reach a much larger audience than hitherto.
In July 2020, the Public Relations and Complaints Department launched the Care. Serve and Protect programme. This programme is aired every Thursday from 8:00 pm via the RSVGPF Facebook page. This initiative is another avenue for the Police and members of the public to interact, share ideas and build closer working relationships.
Vincentians continue to experience first-hand the versatility and creativity of members of the RSVGPF. I speak of the RSVGPF Band and the Police Choir. The Police Band has traversed the length and breadth of SVG playing music and spreading joy to all within the hearing of their instruments and voices. The Police Band is really a gem that should and would be preserved forever.
In addition to the Police Band, the Police Choir has been making waves and winning the hearts of many locally and internationally. In 2020, they have produced an original song for Independence celebrations titled “Happy Independence” and reproduced the popular Christmas song “Give Love on Christmas Day.” The song and video has already been released on social media and the airwaves.
The RSVGPF prides itself not only on the natural ability and skills of its members, but their academic prowess also. More and more Police Officers have successfully sought higher learning opportunities. And several of them received their certificates of completion in varying qualifications including first and master’s degrees. I encourage every Police Officer to develop themselves with the necessary skills to serve the public effectively.
We have just concluded the Police Cooperative Credit Union-Police Caroling Contest. I wish to congratulated the all of the groups that participated included the winners – The Traffic Angels and Calliaqua Police Youth Club Carolers. On Tuesday December 29, 2020, we will be recognizing our brave Police Officers for dedication to duty in 2020 and those who would have retired from the organization for the same period.
Ladies and gentlemen, on December 9, 2020, two (2) dangerous prisoners escaped from Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) in Kingstown. They were recaptured the next day. This incident has caused some administrative rearrangements at the penal institution. Superintendent of Police, Mr. Timothy Hazelwood has succeeded Mr. Brenton Charles, former Superintendent of Prisons who has taken early retirement. The safety and security at the prison are important variables that must be maintained. I assure the public that in an effort so to do, enhanced strategic cooperation would be pursued between the RSVGPF and HMP.
As I address you, I want to let you know that crime continues to decline on the trend line. It has been going in that trajectory for a number of years now. For the period December 2020, there is a 16.3 percent decrease in crimes when compared to the corresponding period in 2019. The RSVGPF will continue to spare no effort in preventing and detecting crimes; while ensuring that the criminals are prosecuted.
For this holiday season, I urge all Vincentians and visitors alike to exercise care and caution when using our roads to avoid injury. To all motorists, please observe all of the road traffic signs. Be courteous to other roads users and do not drink and drive; as you well know – this is a recipe for disaster.
Spread some love this Christmas by giving to the needy and less fortunate among us.
I wish to end by thanking every member of the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police and Auxiliary Forces for their support, loyalty and commitment to duty during 2020. Your service to your country is commendable. I wish you and your families a joyous Christmas and New Year filled with God’s blessings and prosperity.
Let us look forward to 2021 with optimism and hope. Merry Christmas to all.
by Mr. Colin John | Commissioner of Police, St Vincent and the Grenadines