There is no doubt that crime,violent crime and murders in particular, is the veritable “talk of the town” today. Whether in talk shows on radio, in the social media, in political circles, from religious pulpits or in day-to-day discourse, one cannot escape the topic. From this we can safely infer that people are not only concerned, but they also want to see action taken and above all are demanding results.
In response, the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force has been literally corralled into action though it is not yet clear what the overall strategy is. However, the steps taken so far- not only police raids in some communities, but a welcome outreach programme, especially in affected communities- represent a move in the right direction. Those steps also include a gun amnesty even though an earlier effort in this direction does not seem to have produced the desired results.
In furtherance of this new thrust, according to an official statement from the Police, a party of police officers visited the community of Choppins, in the East St George constituency last Saturday following a report of a suspect in possession of an illegal firearm. The statement went on to say that having identified the suspect, the police approached him, identified themselves and attempted to apprehend him.
According to the police statement, they were prevented from doing so by a crowd which surrounded them in a hostile manner, confronted and accosted them and prevented the apprehension. It was only due to the “restraint exercised” by the officers, the statement claimed, which prevented a situation that could have resulted in tragic circumstances.
Based on the police account of the situation, there must be cause for alarm in the general public. For, in the face of our reality, if citizens are physically intervening to prevent the apprehension of a suspect, then we are on the road to a collapse of law and order. In addition, we may well end up in confrontation between the police and citizens for no lawful purpose.
Clearly this is not a situation helpful to the need to not only preserve law and order but to the prosecution of those bent on undermining peace and security. If we are to get this spate of murders and the proliferation of illegal weapons under control, not only must the police act decisively but the public must facilitate and assist in their efforts. The cooperation of the public and young men in particular, is a critical part of such an undertaking. We cannot and must not give succour to lawlessness.