Our Readers' Opinions
December 23, 2004
Too much crime and mayhem

EDITOR: No amount of preachy statements or pleading with young men to act better will ever work to solve our problems with crime and law breaking.

No, not the Special Services Unit (SSU), no, not now, not ever. These problems need to be dealt with in a comprehensive approach. {{more}} Short cuts will not work.

We must look at:

(A) the functioning of the police within our communities;

(B) the administration of justice;

(C) socializing organizations;

(D) job training and

(E) job availability.

Much of the weight of these problems rests on the shoulders of the police and they have failed us badly. We cannot accept a situation where members of the police force are afraid to walk the streets of our villages, are absent in the consideration of the lawbreaker. There is no expectation that if you violate the laws that there is a high probability that you will have to pay a price. Consequently, those who follow the rules will pay that price in accidents and being terrorized daily on the roads.

Similarly, in respect to criminal activity, if the police are absent from our communities they can present no deterrence, engender no confidence and when they show up they appear to be an invading army of foreigners. They themselves may likely feel no different and often act in concert with these perceptions.

Community policing is a concept, which has been tried successfully time and again. This idea has nothing to do with neighbourhood watch groups, nothing to do with occasionally attending a function in middle class Villa or Cane Garden. The police must patrol all communities, rich and poor, town or rural, everyday of the week, get familiar with us, know who we are, know who is likely to commit crimes, be in a position to deter crime, to talk to those who can help in solving crimes.

This is not an unfamiliar method of policing as this was done here some 35 to 40 years ago when officers were sent on foot or by bicycle. This method did work and will again. This time it will help to add walkie-talkies or similar communication equipment.

The SSU doing police work is troublesome because they have been trained to act aggressively towards an invader, shoot first ask questions later. Similarly we have a confusion in function with the fire department and the Coast Guard. We have been provided ships by the US government to do its work, whilst we pay for the running of these operations which do not have our benefit as their primary goal. Americans will never stand for a situation where a segment of their government works primarily for a foreign power. Why should we accept it?

Some of these problems of crime in St. Vincent can be traced back to ineffective or fraudulent administration of justice. There is a strong feeling in St. Vincent and the Grenadines that the legal/justice system does not work for anyone and so people are pursuing vigilante justice. We need to know that when a crime is committed that justice has no favourites, that the police fairly investigate and that the prosecutor presents an effective case.

Whatsin Aname