RSVGPF is modernizing and changing – PM
September 15, 2015
RSVGPF is modernizing and changing – PM

National security officials here are considering whether allowing police officers to stay in their homes rather than at barracks in police stations would improve the quality of policing.

While addressing a conference of Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) of the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (RSVGPF) last week, Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr Ralph Gonsalves said this matter is one that needs critical attention,{{more}} given the nature of telecommunications, which allows for people to be easily mobilized.

According to the Prime Minister, police officers are the most important element in the functioning of the police force, and they have to be properly trained and should work from good accommodations, —with reasonable remuneration and the right tools/equipment to carry out their functions efficaciously.

He expressed his pleasure at the organization of the NCO conference, because it is a sign that the police force is modernizing and changing.

“I think that the broad education revolution has had a tremendous impact on the education in the police force,” he asserted.

Explaining that roughly 50 per cent of the police is undergoing some form of study, Gonsalves said: “We have had so many persons in the police force now having degrees, graduated qualifications — many of them with executive Masters of Business Administration, Associate degrees.”

He also noted that officers who didn’t previously possess CXC qualifications are in pursuit of their subjects, and there are more improvements to be made.

The Prime Minister has also spoke of the introduction of the ‘Thousand Dollar Grant’, which not many persons have thus far taken up.

He said that the grant is available to police officers, nurses and other public servants who enroll for programmes at the SVG Community College or university —with the intention that the money will be used to purchase a laptop. However, the individual must successfully complete one year of the programme or be asked to repay the grant.

“I’m really interested in seeing everybody do advanced studies,” the PM urged.

Additionally, he spoke of reclassification in the police force, which, over a period of time, has resulted in 60 – 70 per cent salary increase for many police officers.

In brief welcoming remarks, chair of the Police Welfare Association Inspector Trevor Bailey said that NCOs are expected to provide quality leadership and should possess high levels of management skills and technical ability.

“It is during forums like these that we can all lean on and learn from each other.”

He also said a lot has changed over the years and that the demands and expectations that society places on police officers have also changed.

The decision to reintroduce this two-day conference, which had a nine-year absence, was made on April 9 this year.

Commissioner of Police Michael Charles, in his remarks, said that NCOs are strategically positioned between the junior and senior officers to ensure that the RSVGPF successfully executes its mandate to citizens and visitors of the country.

“The quality of a police force does not solely depend on its size, but rather on the quality of your output to the general public.”

Topics over the two days included: Powers of arrest; crime scene management; preparation of case files; police leadership and management in the 21st century; human rights; role of the police in curbing domestic violence; ethics and integrity in policing; search care and custody of prisoners; classifications of crime; communication; traffic management; and handling/storing and presentation of exhibits, among others.

The featured speaker, director of the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Community College (SVGCC) Nigel Scott, stated that NCOs must lead by example, despite the challenges.

The Prime Minister also made mention of former commissioners William Harry, Keith Miller, Bertie Pompey, Reynold Hadaway and present COP Michael Charles, lauding their commitment to the development of the police force and urging other officers to emulate their professionalism.

Gonsalves, who has interfaced with police officers as a practitioner of law for over 20 years, stated: “I believe I have a fair understanding of some of the major challenges [and] concerns of the police force.”(AS)