Full Disclosure
May 19, 2006
Another look at the role of the Police

The principal role of the police in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is to enforce the laws of our country, and to maintain the necessary social order, characteristic of all free democratic societies. In so doing, the role of our police entails the tasks of preventing crime and protecting the lives and property of the people of our blessed nation. The work of the police varies; it ranges from guarding both the land and coast which include traffic operations, immigration surveillance, investigation of crimes, criminal intelligence and community service.{{more}}

It is noteworthy however, that despite the hard work and dedication portrayed by our police officers, some persons hold firmly to the view that the entire police service is comprised of a hopeless bunch, intent on retarding progress. Though these are not encouraging words for an officer who places his or her life on the line each day to ensure that order is maintained, he must not be disheartened.

An officer must never be dismayed by such utterances of ingratitude, for it is often noted that, “Men’s goods are written in water and their bads in brass.” In this regard, for far too long, our people have shown a greater interest in criticizing the police service with the intent to malign, rather than to engage in an active partnership so as to assist in the due execution of the officers’ duties. We must no longer simply see our police officers as persons who have the authority only to arrest, detain, collect information and charge persons reasonably suspected of committing a crime, instead we must see our officers as the nation’s “watch men”.

It is often the case that there is a direct relation between the explanation given by an officer for joining the police service and his/her level of performance. It is well known that some persons use the police service as a stepping stone to assist in reaching for other forms of employment be it regionally or internationally; some also see it merely as a form of employment to occupy their time until they may be able to obtain a higher paying job of some sort. On the other hand, there are many police officers who perform their duties with a greater sense of loyalty and urgency.

Over the past few months there has been an increase in police presence around the country and particularly so in many rural districts, in well known “hot spots” or violence prone areas. This police presence plays a pivotal role in preventing certain activities from escalating into violence.

In recent times, I have had the opportunity to work alongside many police officers of all ranks and can confirm that the majority of our police officers do exhibit an extremely high level of professionalism and expertise in their various divisions. We must stand firm behind those who protect us, and pray for their steps to be well ordered.

Many notable improvements have been made to some of the facilities used by the police. Such improvements assist the police in executing their duties of crime prevention, preservation of peace and upholding the law in a more efficient manner. Nevertheless, where there are certain deficiencies the police have been doing their best with the resources available.

In order to successfully deal with the challenges that will arise, our officers must at all times be enthused about learning and retooling to ensure that they are on par with the many changes that are occurring daily in our world. Police officers must therefore seize every opportunity they get to advance their knowledge as it relates to their work. It is extremely important as law enforcement personnel that they at all times maintain a comprehensive understanding of the law. This is definitely not the time for complacency. Therefore, one recommendation is that we must see the training of more of our officers extending long after they would have left the doors of the Police Training School, and particularly so, since the demands and needs of the society are not static.

Without doubt, there are far more good officers than bad ones. Nonetheless, whilst some officers may sometimes fall below what is expected of them, and it may be befitting to utilize the quote that “a chain is as strong as its weakest link”, we must always find innovative ways and means of assisting our weaker officers.

As a people we must show greater respect, love and affection to all police officers for joining a profession that is geared at protecting our society. Research has proven that law enforcement bodies function at their best in situations where they receive the assistance and cooperation of the people whom they serve. We must therefore adopt a positive outlook to the job done by our police officers.