September 20, 2019

St Kitts & Nevis: Feature address by Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris, Prime Minister and Minister of National Security at the Passing Out Parade Wednesday, August 14, 2019 at the Police Training Complex

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Hon.

It is an honour and a privilege for me to join you at today’s Passing Out Parade.  I congratulate our thirty-one (31) Recruits (28 males and 3 females) who today will join the ranks of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force.   It is with a sense of pride and delight that I welcome them as they start out on a career that promises exciting challenges and growth opportunities on top of genuine satisfaction and purpose. 

The composition of this group is testimony to the determination of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force to recruit qualified and interested young Police Officers.  The group of recruits who are graduating this afternoon consists of nationals from St. Kitts and Nevis, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica and Grenada.  Let us give them all a round of applause for having successfully completed Course No. 43.

A Diverse, Challenging and Exciting Career Lays Ahead

This diversity in nationality reflects the contexts and countries in which they will be called to serve as an elite group of young people armed with an array of special skills that their civilian peers will never be exposed to – as Police Officers, you will get the opportunity throughout the course of your career to:

  1. Travel across the Caribbean to participate in Exercise Tradewinds, where you will have the chance to work with and learn from military, law enforcement and civilian personnel from some 20 partner nations;
  2. Make a difference while working as part of a Regional Security System (RSS) delegation to an RSS-member country, whether rendering invaluable disaster relief and humanitarian assistance after a devastating hurricane or assisting with manpower resources during large national events, states of emergency and other matters of importance to .
  3. Represent the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis during high-profile regional events, such as a Meeting of the Conference of CARICOM Heads of Government. Constable 515 Justin Griffin and Constable 732 Rudwell Mickle of our Traffic Department had the opportunity to attend the Heads of Government Meeting in Saint Lucia last month where they served proficiently as police outriders, much to the credit of the RSCNPF.

These are just a few examples of the diverse experiences that lay ahead, as the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force provides a future of possibilities involving exposure to travel, training, and technological tools.  It is no wonder then that the RSCNPF does not discriminate on the basis of nationality; indeed, it makes sense to recruit as widely as possible in order to build a Police Force that represents our diverse demographics.  After all, the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis is a first-class destination that attracts the best and the brightest from all across the region, who come here to work at the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank and its affiliate organizations, as well as at our law firms, government agencies, etc.  Our non-national resident population speaks several languages and comes from a range of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, so it makes sense for the Police Force to have representation from people who can connect with them – particularly in light of the Ministry of National Security’s focus on Community Policing.      

Adequately Prepared to Protect and Serve Our Communities

We commend these young Officers for completing the course of training.  I also congratulate the Commandant, Inspector Eldrin Dickenson, and the full-time staff at the Police Training School, as well as all visiting lecturers, who have been involved in the delivery of the programme.

As a result of the inclusion of the personnel from the Regional Security System and the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, as well as the local visiting lecturers, the training curriculum experienced by these recruits has been impressively enriched.

Apart from the usual traditional subjects that form part of the training curriculum, and in an effort to better prepare the recruits to cope with the emerging challenges that are being faced by Police in our communities – as well as to ensure that the recruits graduate with the basics of what are required to be an effective 21st Century Police Officer – new areas of study have been introduced. These include Tourism Oriented Training, Asset Recovery Training, Psychology and Community Policing.   

The delivery of the Psychology programme by Psychologist, Dr. Cherese Godwin shows the efforts that are being made to provide our young Police Officers with a better understanding of the developmental issues that may account for the behaviours of at-risk youth in our society, thereby enabling them to better deal with them on an interpersonal level.  

Additionally, Community Policing is emerging, or perhaps re-emerging, as the driving, underlying organizational and operational philosophy that is guiding Police practice.  It is therefore highly commendable that, during their course, these recruits have been exposed to practical community policing through interaction with Community Policing Officers during field engagements.

Having said that, at this time, I make mention of one of the impressive community and youth policing initiatives that is being built out here in the Federation: the Explorers Community Youth Clubs.  I take this opportunity to commend the members of the Explorers Drum Corps that have been performing so excellently at this their inaugural performance at a Police Passing-Out ceremony of this scale and caliber.       

You recruits have demonstrated your physical prowess and talent in passing through what I have heard could sometimes be a grueling training programme.  You well deserve, then, to bask in the honour of recognition during this afternoon’s spirited parade and exhibitions.  You have made your family and loved ones, as well as your fellow citizens and residents, proud in becoming full-fledged members of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force. This is quite an achievement, and I now expect that you will begin to protect and serve our communities, paying particular care and respect for victims and vulnerable members of our society.  Let concern and compassion be at the heart of everything you do as a member of the Police Force.   

RSCNPF To Be Among Elite Police Forces

Our intention is to build the RSCNPF to be regarded and ranked among the elite police forces, or police services, in the Caribbean and indeed the world. We want the people of the Federation to hold our Police in high regard based on their integrity and impartial practice.  Only with an appearance of – and actual – professionalism will you earn the respect of the community.  As new Police Officers, this should be your guiding principle at all times.

After The Ceremony

After today’s Passing Out, you will be assigned to serve the Police Force and the community in different posts.  You will be required to carry out your duties in fighting crime and protecting people.  Wherever you are placed to work, see it as an opportunity to learn more about an aspect of policing and try to apply the theory to the practice.

You must be able to exercise your skills and talents in combating serious crime.  Serious crimes include homicides, non-fatal shootings, robbery, sexual offences, etc.  Thankfully, over the past few months, we have observed a marked decline in these offences; but we cannot rest on our laurels.  It will take continued hard work by law enforcement to keep the statistics down. Behind the statistics are real people who should be able to go about their lawful business and legitimate daily routines without fear and without becoming victims of crime.  Your job is to maintain the peace, serve and protect our citizens and residents alike.  Targets are being set and you must be prepared to contribute your part and perform at the highest level to support ongoing initiatives.  Consistency and commitment to the tasks ahead will be key.

The duties of the Police Officer in “protecting people,” which sometimes seem to be less glamorous, have grown increasingly important in recent years.  In major Police Forces around the world, in addition to taking up the role of a law enforcer, a police officer may be called upon to perform as a provider of first aid, a social worker, a counsellor, or a negotiator. Therefore, you must be versatile and be prepared to serve the community in all kinds of emergencies. As a Police Force, we must be able to build our neighbourhood policing presence to tackle more local problems and improve our services.  I am told that this is at the heart of what community policing is all about. I am sure that the people in the communities around St. Kitts and Nevis will be looking forward to seeing you on the streets.

Conclusion

In closing, I wish to emphasize that the emerging research on 21st Century Policing suggests that a major role of the police is to build trust and confidence within our communities. Police are here to work alongside the citizens in maintaining the public peace, preventing and detecting crime. You have promised to act with fairness, integrity, diligence and impartiality. In other words, you have promised to be a professional police officer at all times.  These values should run through the core of everything you do, both when you are in uniform and when you are out of uniform.  Public trust is the Police bedrock, and you will play an important part in building this as you perform your duties. In every interaction that you will have, remember that you are the face of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force and the face of Policing in St. Kitts and Nevis.

Work hard, enjoy yourselves and become the best Police Officers that you can be.  Help people, protect vulnerable people and catch criminals.

Congratulations on your successful completion of Course No. 43.  Best wishes to all law enforcement officers.

May God protect you and all law enforcement officers.  May God continue to bless the people of St. Kitts and Nevis.  May peace continue to abound in this our land of beauty. 

I Thank You!

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