My Fellow Citizens and Residents, St Kitts and Nevis is viewed by many as a Progressive Country: our citizens and residents are enjoying a better quality of life; there is improvement in commercial linkages and business opportunities. Investors continue to turn to us as a land of shared opportunity. More visitors and tourists are walking among us, curious about how we live and about our Nation’s natural beauty and attractions. Yet, in spite of these development indicators we must modernize and innovate and look forward, by future proofing our growth, our advantages and assets as we move forward.
In moving forward, we must have a progressive and effective Policing Service for all people. Our Police men and women must all be focused on the key Policing principles of keeping the Nation as safe as possible. This calls for protecting and preserving our freedoms and properties from those without the moral values espoused by the vast majority of honest, hard-working people.
We must eradicate and stamp out the mindless ‘tit-for-tat’ killings that have become a scourge in the Caribbean region, from Jamaica and Bahamas in the North, to Trinidad and Tobago in the South. Our beautiful Federation too, has been plagued for over a decade with retaliatory violence, destroying families and wasting the lives of our fathers, sons, brothers and grandsons in the main.
Harsher Penalties for Violent Crimes
This Government will leave no stone unturned to overcome this social abhorrence of violent crime. We will discuss harsher sentencing for those misguided citizens bent on assaulting public decency by the use of extreme violence to express and assert themselves, intimidate and denigrate others. Our justice system and the associated consequences for those individuals will be swift and uncompromising and should act as a deterrent for others with similar intentions. We will consider severe sentencing terms for those found with illegal weapons. We will increase fines and consider alternative sentencing to reflect a level of punishment that befits the crime committed against members of society. Equally our socio economic policies shall provide opportunities to those on the path of deviant and criminal behavior, offering them a fresh start to a productive life.
The Police We Deserve
Public confidence in policing is paramount and this can only be achieved if our Police Officers – at every rank, – step up to the mark and not just deliver a good service but go the extra mile.
Effective, highly motivated officers who are, role models, delivering the required results will be rewarded and recognised to reflect a Nation’s pride and appreciation of the extra mile they go and the extreme situations in which they find themselves as they defend, protect and preserve our freedom and way of life. We will seek the support of our commercial partners to honour this pledge with innovative, worthwhile and meaningful rewards that may also recognise the Police Officers’ close family members – who sometimes endure the dangers and anxiety their loved ones occupation causes them. Finally, we will review Police regulations with a view to ensuring that they are in sync with a modern, progressive Police Service.
The High Command Vision
Tonight, I am pleased to announce our Nation’s newly appointed Police High Command Team. From the transparent process of interviews and personnel selection, recommendations were forwarded for the independent consideration and determination of the Police Service Commission. During the process to select these officers all eligible Gazetted officers were offered interviews and asked to share their vision for the future of policing in the Federation and how they can add value to the implementation of the 4 Year Strategic Plan (2016-2019).
The vision of all senior officers interviewed was a collective one:
- To reduce crime and to make our communities safer.
They were asked: “How do you intend to achieve this?”
Their response was that strong, democratic and inclusive leadership at the very top will set the standards, and provide the right models of behaviour for other officers to follow.
Interviewees also said that our Police Officers needed to be well led, and motivated by strong Professional Codes of Conduct and Ethics. Hopefully we have provided such leadership in the announcement to come shortly.
They agreed that embracing the concept of working collaboratively with the Criminal Justice Partners and other Civil Service professionals was an essential way forward in applying shared efforts, staff and resources to make our streets safer.
Applicants also indicated that crime could be reduced and more effectively detected by (1) adherence to strong, regularly reviewed policies and procedures, (2) making the best use of current resources and equipment; and (3) investment in new technologies.
Essential to this broad approach, applicants said that more Police time should be devoted to building community relations, especially with our children and youth. This can be accomplished via new, community-based programmes and youth diversionary activities that are organized, managed and enjoyed by Police, criminal justice partners and members of the public.
It is obvious that clear communication systems and investment in Police mobility would provide a more effective proactive and reactive response to criminal activity and safety issues. A revamping of current laws including a review, where necessary of our Nation’s Constitution where it may unduly protect the criminal over the victim is an important cornerstone, applicants said.
New Policing Directorates
In support of this strategy, the Government is proud to have been able to provide a substantial new framework of Policing structure under new Policing Directorates, that are clearly identified for the newly appointed officers. These targets also contain built-in mechanisms for public accountability by individual officers. To accomplish this, police officers will have to take ownership of their own assignments and be accountable for the listed policies: ownership and accountability will be expected for specific areas of Policing, specialist departments and resources. We are proud to have an annual Policing Plan focusing on Public Policing priorities. This plan is also being implemented in tandem with a well-publicised Six Point Plan geared at Violence Reduction. This policing strategy has already shown some positive results and is being implemented alongside the newly rewritten and refreshed Three year Service Improvement Plan – and I stress the word Improvement.
Our Nation expects our Police Force to improve – and it can! The appointment of the new High Command Team has been designed to bring the Force up to a full strength ‘cabinet’ complete with newly promoted and necessarily enthusiastic Senior Police Officers.
This Government has already provided the Police Force with a firm foundation in the form of extensive training and one-to-one mentoring of our Crime Investigators and Intelligence Handlers. Overseas training for selected members of the Forensics Department has been provided with a specialist ballistics microscope to enhance detection capabilities. Investigations will be further facilitated via the emminent provision of a completely new K9 unit with young, well trained police dogs. In sum, we are providing law enforcement with the resources it deserves.
Your Government has brought together the wider Civil Service into a Criminal Justice Strategic Board to combine the weight of their expertise, staff, equipment and efforts to make the Federation a safer place in which to live, work and invest. This collaborative working relationship between key agencies is an important step forward in assisting the criminal justice system. Shared information will make it more difficult for the criminals to escape detection.
To meet the challenges of modern day crime fighting, we have invested in improved investigative resourcing, more transparent staffing procedures, and the development of a complete curriculum of refresher training. This means that our police officers are better placed to deal with and handle crime.
Supervisors are receiving training in leadership; accountability; operational and organizational development so as to create the right culture within our Police Force. In so doing, we can achieve the results to which we all aspire.
All gazetted police officers and our new Police High Command have been given a brand new toolbox with which to prove themselves in their new roles.
And prove themselves they must! We cannot afford to have these key leaders operating at any other level than that of Excellence.
12 Month Probation
The new High Command Team, as per practice in the Civil Service will be placed on a 12-month probationary period and will be held to account for their individual and Directorate’s performance. Their Directorate’s policies, plans of action, and actual actions taken will be assessed, measured and openly reported to Cabinet. The High Command, as indicated earlier, will be supported by professional mentoring to supplement the leadership and command training to which they are being exposed.
The new Police High Command Team has been carefully selected because they are, at this time, the very best Policing hope of our Nation and are the most capable of taking on an exacting individual and collective challenge. It is time for our local talent to bloom and do positive things for our Nation. I am therefore pleased to announce that the Police Service Commission has made the following recommendations to His Excellency, the Governor General Sir S. W. Tapley Seaton, Q.C. for the following appointments:
Commissioner of Police, Ian Queeley: He has overall accountability for all Policing matters. The buck stops with him and he must hold all subordinates accountable for performance.
Deputy Commissioner of Police, Hilroy Brandy: has responsibility for the Service Improvement Directorate
Assistant Commissioner of Police, Terrance James: has responsibility for Operations Directorate
Assistant Commissioner of Police, Andre Mitchell: has responsibility for the Crime Directorate
Assistant Commissioner of Police, Merclyn Hughes: has responsibility for Administration, Resources, Technology and Intelligence Directorate
Brief Profile of the New High Command
Ian Queeley, has been a Police Officer for 30 years. 15 of which have been at the Strategic Management and Executive levels. He has had a well-rounded career having spent 13 years working in the drug squad. He has also spent 3 years on secondment to the Central Liaison Office of the Regional Security System (RSS) as a Permanent Instructor where he had special responsibilities for Physical Training, Weapon Training and Internal Security. He has two degrees and professional training from the best policing institutions.
Hilroy Brandy brings to the table 35 years of police service and specialist experience in Crime Scene Investigation and Management, and investigative practice in Financial and Anti-money laundering matters.
Terrance James; has been with the police service for 29 years. He has been posted to the Special Services Unit and the drug squad, and has been the acting commandant of the Police Training School and Commander of both “A” and “B” Divisions.
Andre Mitchell has 25 years in the Police service and brings experience of working in the Violent Crimes Unit.
Merclyn Hughes, the lone female in the High Command, has 37 years of policing experience with a special focus on leading in strategic intelligence. Ms Hughes has broken the glass ceiling. I hope her ascent provides inspiration to all local and regional females in the Police Force.
All of these officers are well qualified and have received extensive local, regional and international training throughout their policing careers in law enforcement. Their breadth of skills, knowledge and specialist areas complement each other and provide us with a robust leadership team. Their collective experience in the Police Force stands at 156 years.
Words of Encouragement, Admonition and Advice
So Mr Queeley, Mr Brandy, Mr James, Mr Mitchell and Miss Hughes welcome to your new challenge and the Nation’s highest expectations. Welcome to the rights and responsibilities of your elevated roles.
YOU must lead. You must inspire. You must motivate and You must be innovative. You must be ‘free from autocracy to think out of the box and take action of your own considered volition’.
YOU must be tireless in ensuring that words, policies and strategies are converted into crime reduction. It is your responsibility for making our communities safer for citizens, residents, businesses and tourists. We the members of the public will work with you.
YOU MUST work with communities. You MUST work, inside communities, for communities and alongside communities. You are community members as well as their Servants and, as such, you are their hope for a safer and more secure life in the future.
What our Nation needs above all else from our Police Force is that long awaited, sustainable and tangible change of PROFESSIONAL, LAWFUL AND POSITIVE ACTION as you serve the public.
Such strong, forthright and consistent ACTION by our Police Force must be ethical and lawfully beyond reproach. Yet, it must be POSITIVE, BALANCED AND PROFESSIONAL, and a credit to the Police Profession. When this happens our law enforcement officers will be better respected and supported by the public at large. It is then that the Police Force will make proud the citizens and residents of St Kitts and Nevis.
A Fair Chance to Outstanding Officers
I congratulate and commend to you the people of Saint Christopher and Nevis these newly appointed leaders and Policing flag bearers. I wish them every stellar success and I pledge every support possible as these officers make this Federation a safer and more law-abiding place in which to live, work, invest and play.
The vast majority of our people will agree that the bright and talented police officers deserve a fair chance to prove their mettle at this time. My Government has provided them with such an opportunity.
I am obliged to report that Mr Stafford Liburd, our Acting Commissioner, has taken a well-deserved vacation leave. Mr Liburd has given almost 40 years’ service to the Police Force. This is no small feat. At the end of his vacation leave Mr Liburd’s expertise and experience will be utilized elsewhere. Acting ACP Vaughn Henderson has been transferred to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). Mr Henderson who holds a law degree successfully pursued his Legal Education Certificate in 2014. He was called to the bar, thereafter, making him eligible for professional legal practice. We are happy to be able to afford Mr Henderson the opportunity to hone his craft as a lawyer/solicitor. We expect that he will serve his country well and I wish him every success in this new endeavour.
These appointments would create vacancies in the ranks from which the new High Command has ascended. A truly transparent process of selecting officers to fill these vacancies through promotion has been undertaken. Recommendations are being forwarded through the proper channels to the Police Service Commission for itsconsideration and determination. In due course, the public will be advised of these new appointments.
I call on all citizens and residents of St Kitts and Nevis to give the New High Command and the Police in general, their fullest support and cooperation. If you have information on any crime please report it. Parents and guardians, we admonish you to guide, instruct, mentor and encourage your children and wards into being law-abiding, morally grounded citizens. We need all to take a stand for justice, law and order.
The life we save may very well be our own. This is our civic duty. From this sacred responsibility none of us must retreat. This is our Country and there is no better time than now to exercise to its fullest extent our Nation’s motto: “Country Above Self”.
May God Bless this Country and may keep us safe, secure and prosperous.