ACP hopes for reduced murder rate in 2017
January 17, 2017
ACP hopes for reduced murder rate in 2017

With a record 40 homicides being recorded in 2016, the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (RSVGPF) hopes to “drastically” reduce that number in 2017.

In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday, head of Crime and Assistant Commissioner (ACP) of Police Frankie Joseph said that last year, the RSVGPF had put a number of measures in place to prevent crime, which included an increase in both foot and mobile patrols.

“As a result of that, we were able to curb some of the spike in the murders until the latter part of the year,” he added, referring to December murders that pushed the number of killings over the top.

The second highest murder rate was recorded in 2014, when 37 homicides were reported. According to the officer in charge of Crime, the 2016 murders were a spill over from the 2014 murders, which he said were drug related.

“We are hoping that this year would be a better year and we are hoping that this year we’d be able to reduce the number of murders drastically,” said Joseph.

“We have other things that we are going to put in place; some of the things I really can’t disclose now; [but] we put certain things in place at the ending of last year and those would continue for this year.”

Joseph said these measures have been working quite well so far and noted that last Friday, the police force received four pick-up trucks that would assist greatly in their patrols and their response time to reports.

Additionally, the police force has implemented internal lectures this year, which commenced on Tuesday night at the Old Montrose Police Station, when retired Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Anthony Humphrey made a presentation on homicides to a group of officers that included 51 new recruits.

Joseph said recognizing the importance of training, the lectures were introduced to fill the gap left by the reduced availability of overseas training opportunities.

The ACP also told SEARCHLIGHT that the police force would also be keeping a closer relationship with the media, so that the public would be kept up to date with what goes in the constabulary.

Included in this outreach are plans to more fully utilize the organization’s Public Relations Department. Joseph said police officers from various departments would make appearances on the “On the Beat” radio programme broadcast on Monday evenings on NBC Radio.

“We would very much be involved in giving tips and giving advice,” said Joseph.

Joseph disclosed that while the police have a good relationship with the public, there is still room for improvement.

Throughout 2016, a number of persons have come forward with accusations of police brutality, mainly directed at the Rapid Response Unit (RRU)/Black Squad.

In a statement to the media last year, lawyer Grant Connell said “the relationship between the police and the society has broken down tremendously and we have to start to rekindle and fix that.”

In effort to do just that, Joseph said the hierarchy of the organization often “preaches” to officers to be professional at all times, no matter the social status or the area in which the person they approach may reside.

“Be professional regardless of who you are dealing with; look at every single person as a human being… I always tell officers that respect is something that you earn, not something that you demand.”

The ACP, however, observed that while some persons would not react kindly towards officers, their approach is very important and necessary force should be the last resort.

“Your force must be reasonable,” he stressed.

Joseph further stated that the police force would do everything in their power to improve the relationship with the public as the year continues, and called on persons to come forward with any information they may have.

“Without the information from the public, sometimes it would be impossible for the police to solve crime” he added.

“I would like to thank the public for the support that they have given us in 2016 and before and I would like us to build on that relationship… the police and the public must have a very strong relationship because strength in numbers is literally unbeatable,”

He further stated that persons to not have to walk into the police station to give information; they could simply call 456-1810, 457-1211 or his office at 456-1339.

“No one is going to ask for your name and your address,” he said, adding that persons often are afraid to come forward because of the issue of confidentiality. (AS)