BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, APRIL 16th, 2016 (PRESS SEC) – Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, during the passing out parade for recruits of the St. Kitts and Nevis Defence Force (SKNDF) on Thursday, April 14th, thanked all law and security enforcement officers for their tremendous service to our beloved country.
In particular, he thanked them for their stepped-up operations over the past two and a half months, which have put a dent in gun deaths and shootings.
When Prime Minister Harris addressed the audience at the passing out parade on April 14th, the last gun-related death had been reported 34 days before on March 11th.
Regrettably, a fatal shooting took place in Nevis in the early morning of April 16th. The Prime Minister and his Administration extend condolences to the affected family and loved ones. Moreover, the Team Unity Government reaffirms its commitment to ensuring that stepped-up support for law enforcement remains at the fore of its agenda in tandem with stepped-up law enforcement efforts.
Prime Minister Harris wishes to reiterate what he said in his Feature Address on April 14th. “I take this opportunity to remind everyone that if you see something say something, because the life you end up saving could be your own or that of a family member or a friend, or the crime you help to solve could be one that ends up making an indelible mark on the life of someone near and dear to you. It is important to stress that we all must engage in this fight to stamp out the scourge of crime. That is why it is important for you to work with our police force in organizing neighbourhood watches and other initiatives to prevent and detect crime. We encourage the nation to stand with our law and security officers because they stand up for us each and every day.”
The Prime Minister also addressed all law and security enforcement officers, saying, “Your mandate is to work assiduously to fulfill our national motto “Country Above Self” by your service, which includes defending this great Federation. It is our view that, with a highly motivated team, results can be achieved. Having support at the highest level is therefore of great importance. It is important for us not only to provide you with moral support, as we are doing today, but also to allocate resources that you need to perform your duties properly.”
To this end, the Police Strategic Plan 2016-2019, which includes a six-point plan of action, and the Improved Service Delivery Plan take a broad, encompassing view of security.
The strategic plan not only deals with crime prevention, intelligence-led policing, and ongoing training in all areas, including operational forensic ballistics, but also with the engagement of stakeholders and collaborations with other agencies such as the Ministry of Education and Social Services.
Dr. Harris said on Thursday that, “Truancy programs, parenting workshops, mentoring initiatives and the like can play a vital role in reducing homicides and violent crime, so we need all hands on board not only in the public sector, but in civil society to open up rehabilitative avenues for our families and, more importantly, our young people. Establishing ongoing mentoring and counseling services for our law and security enforcement officers is also vital because they see the results of brutal crimes close-up, as well as the traumatic impact on the victims’ loved ones whom they sometimes have to counsel even when these officers themselves are struggling to cope with post-traumatic stress which is often a corollary of processing grisly crime scenes. The Bramshill Policing Advisers have done a good job so far in training, mentoring, and offering investigative assistance in solving crimes and homicides in particular.”
Prime Minister Harris also said that his Team Unity Government is committed to the renovation of the Base Headquarters of the St. Kitts and Nevis Defence Force Coast Guard at Bird Rock. Last August, Coast Guard Commander Major Anthony Comrie gave members of the Prime Minister’s visiting team a tour of the facilities, and they noted officers’ concerns.
“Some officers told us about their health concerns over the leaking sewage pipes, poor air circulation, and extensive growth of fungi on the walls and ceilings,” the Prime Minister said, adding that, “This, of course, is not good enough, and this Government has placed resources in the budget to deal with this as a matter of priority.”
Prime Minister Harris noted the significance that the first meeting in several years of the Defence Board took place under the National Unity Government in January 2016. The Defence Board is charged with providing administrative support to the SKNDF, including deliberating on human resource matters such as promotion policies and procedures. The Prime Minister chairs the Defence Board, which comprises Attorney General, Honourable Vincent Byron, Jr., the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Mr. Osmond Petty, and the Commander of the St. Kitts and Nevis Defence Force, Lt. Col. Patrick Wallace. Prime Minister Harris said they intend to grapple with several matters of concern to the Defence Force at their next meeting.
The Prime Minister expressed pride during his Feature Address that, last November, St. Kitts and Nevis became the first country in the OECS to launch the Criminal Justice Strategic Board, which has as its mandate, inter alia, the reduction and prevention of crime and the reintegration of offenders into society to deter recidivism.
“My Team Unity Administration firmly believes that an integrative, interdepartmental approach must be taken in this fight to maintain a safe and secure St. Kitts and Nevis. All hands are required to be on deck to assist our brave law and security enforcement officers in curtailing the activities of criminals,” Prime Minister Harris said.