Commissioner CG Walwyn Speaks Out On Youth Violence

The Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force in unison with the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions thank the police officers and prosecutors who sought justice for the Zakers family in the recent court trial. The Jury is to be commended for their dedication in ensuring that justice for the Zakers family was received. There are no winners in this trial, the Zakers family have lost a son through a senseless killing seen all too often throughout the Caribbean. The young men who were convicted are among the all too common statistics of our young men being decimated or incarcerated due to an epidemic of senseless violence among the youth.

I realise that St. Kitts and Nevis has a problem that needs to be addressed with alternatives to the issue of gangs and gang violence. In order to combat the crime and devastation brought on by criminal gangs, communities must first recognise when gangs have gained a foothold in their neighbourhoods. When a community has gangs, there are drugs. Where there are drugs, there are guns. Where there are drugs and guns, there are homicides. I believe that the citizens of the Federation have accepted this as a fact. The success of gang reduction strategies will only be recognised when law enforcement, school officials, community leaders, business owners and local citizens collectively conduct a thorough and accurate analysis of the situation in their communities and when a gang presence is discovered, acknowledge the true nature of a gang presence in their community.

In order for a community to become inhospitable to gangs, a supportive law enforcement presence must be put in place as the foundation to regain economic sustainability, and promote a safe and healthy environment. Studies conducted by law enforcement has discovered that communities that work with law enforcement, and crime prevention experts, have experienced successes in driving the presence of gangs out of their neighbourhoods and have seen the crime rate of their neighbourhoods decline. This is evident in St. Kitts as we have initiated the School Resource Officer Program and have full-time officers in the Cayon and Sandy Point High Schools. There is also a night time Juvenile Arrest and Monitoring Officer who patrols the streets at nights and if it is after 10 p.m. and an under 16 years of age juvenile is found unaccompanied by an adult and the juvenile cannot satisfy the enquiry of the officer, that juvenile is taken to the nearest police station and the parent either picks up the child from the station or the child spends the night at the station.

But the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force is not about locking up children, we are about giving our children alternatives to gangs, guns, drugs and violence. Through the sanctioning of a program aimed at saving our children from self destruction, the Federal Government teamed with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office of Orlando Florida through and began teaching the M.A.G.I.C. Program which is geared at reaching elementary school children before they go to high school. Mentoring Advising Guiding and Instructing Children offered children alternatives to gangs, guns, drugs, and violence. This 10 week program recently graduated 374 of our elementary school children.The Federal Government in support of the police force and the efforts to reduce juvenile crime within the Federation, will now partner with the Houston Police and a Teens and Police (TAP) program aimed at closing the gap between police and teenagers in high school. It is a very successful 11-week program used in high schools.

Our society cannot afford to have any more senseless killings like Mr. Zakers, therefore, this administration is dedicated to establishing a policy that will actively work towards removing the criminal activity and terrorism perpetrated by criminal gangs upon the citizens of this Federation. We ask the public support as we embark on recovering the peace and safety of our Federation.

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