What happened to that 2017 crime fighting plan?
July 25, 2023
What happened to that 2017 crime fighting plan?

In September 2017, a month in which there were 10 homicides in St Vincent and the Grenadines, a top ranking member of the police force announced that a comprehensive, sustainable plan had been devised to deal with the violence the country had been experiencing, specifically, gun related violence.

Then Assistant Commissioner of Police Frankie Joseph traced the 2017 upsurge in gun related murders and violent crime to the year 2014 when there had been 38 homicides, with 27 perpetrated using firearms.

In that year, a large quantity of cocaine had reportedly been stolen and the gun violence was believed to be related to efforts by the owner of the illegal substance to get it back.

Joseph, who is now Deputy Commissioner of Police said that in 2014, certain strategies had been put in place and those strategies worked. He said the strategies spilled over to the following year, and in 2015, the homicide count fell from 38 to 25 with 12 being firearm related.

But by 2017, the count had risen again and Joseph pointed at the inability of the police to sustain the measures they put in place in 2014. He however disclosed that all was not lost as he had been instrumental in the design of a “long-term, sustainable strategy to fight gun crimes,” and assured the public that they would be relentless on this and it would not be a short-term policy.

He promised that this long-term strategy would take care of the firearm violence and there would not be another upsurge.

But here we are in July 2023, and to date, there have been 35 homicides with five more months to go before the end of the year.

And last Thursday, during a press conference held in the wake of the July 26 mass shooting at Harbour Club, Kingstown, Commissioner of Police (CoP) Colin John also referenced the 2014 cocaine theft as the genesis of much of the gun related violence here.

While we recognize the need for a community approach to address this problem effectively, and are in no way placing total responsibility for what is happening on the police, but we cannot help but wonder what happened to the plan, which the present Deputy CoP promised would prevent further upsurges.

Is it that the police are not sufficiently resourced or appropriately trained, or are the numbers presently enlisted in the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force insufficient for the task before them?

Are our regional neighbours on the same page as we are? Collaboration is essential if we are to disrupt these illicit networks and dismantle cross-border criminal operations.

The trafficking of illegal firearms and drugs is a significant driver of crime and poses a significant challenge to our nation’s security.

We thank the RSVGPF for their efforts to keep us safe, and while we do not expect them to divulge the details of their crime fighting plans, on the basis of the assurance given to the public in 2017, we are owed an update on the implementation of the crime fighting plan and its success to date.