May 10, 2021

Are police adding to crime in the Caribbean?

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By Dr Neals Chitan From Caribbean News Now

In a recent technical working group meeting of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative in St Kitts, May 10-11, 2018, the agenda was skillfully manicured to address issues influencing the upsurge in crime and violence that the Caribbean region has been experiencing in the last decade or so.

As a participant, amidst the great discussions of the two days, I was particularly intrigued by the workshop on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) made by presenter Ben Struhl of the Northeastern University’s Centre for Crime Prevention and Community Resilience, which totally authenticated my copyrighted CBT concept and approach “Project STOP ‘n’ THINK”, which we have been engaging internationally as a premiere mitigating factor against crime and violence for the past 18 years.

With representation from the high command of police forces across the Caribbean in attendance, the formal discussions, group work and lunch time around-the table chit chats all centered on the content of the three plenary sessions, discussing:

• Preventing crime through positive youth involvement
• Violence against girls and women
• Crime and violence in the digital age.

However, considering the recent criminal behaviour of law enforcers in the Caribbean, probably it is prudent to include a cognitive behavioral therapy session for police officers next time in the agendas of our regional discussions on crime and violence, since they are adding to the rising statistics that we are so worried about in the region.

In an article that was published May 3, 2018, by columnist Andrea Parra of the TT Whistleblower, a publication that prides itself on smart fearless journalism, the caption read “Sergeant Vs Corporal in Shootout.” The story vividly captures a love triangle involving a Trinidad and Tobago Police Service sergeant, woman police constable and corporal that exploded into gun fight outside a popular restaurant with the sergeant running down the corporal, and both exchanging gun fire at each other.

“It was like the wild west,” commented an onlooker, as the “Cowboy” and “Indian” ducked, ran and shot at each other, a scene that was captured on video and released on social media. The saga finally ended as the both police men collapsed with gunshot wounds and were rushed to the hospital in critical condition where Sergeant Darryl Honore died from his injuries a few days later.

In the following paragraph of that same article dated May 3, 2018, Parra reported that just the Wednesday (which seems to be the day before) another Trinidad and Tobago Police Service constable appeared before the court for wounding a female colleague inside the San Juan Police Station.

PC Terry Bernard, 44, appeared before a Port of Spain Magistrate for maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm on female Corporal Roxanne Sealey and was charged for committing a criminal offence against Sealey while they were both on duty in September.

Then the focus moves to Grenada where, on May 10, 2018, PC Denson Charles and PC Randy Alexander of the Royal Grenada Police Force appeared before the St George’s court charged in two separate incidents of dangerous driving leading to death, occurring within hours from each other on April 12 and 13, 2018, respectively.

Charles was charged with dangerous driving that took the life of businessman Trevor Renwick when his personal vehicle recklessly collided with Renwick’s motorcycle, while Alexander was charged with dangerous and reckless driving when, as a bus driver, he hit and took the life of Betty Ann Lambert, a 42-year-old mother of four, and dragged her almost a full mile before stopping.

And so, we are left with the question, “Are police adding to the crime in the Caribbean?” From these four recent news items, which by the way were all published this month, it seems that the answer is a resounding “Yes!” And if the truth be told, if we were to do a complete search of published news within the other islands of the region, I am certain that we would uncover other stories of recent criminal behaviour within the rank and files of Caribbean law enforcers.

Now, I do agree that police officers are mere humans who have their personal issues, propensities and challenges to deal with while at the same time helping the public to deal with theirs. I also agree that the acute outbreak of crime and violence in the region is creating a volatile and confrontational environment which breeds quick and sometimes impulsive reaction from law enforcers.

However, trained officers should expect to be held to a higher standard of decision making by the public, especially when they have in their possession the firepower that can eliminate a life in a second.

I must therefore commend the High Command of the St Christopher and Nevis Police Force for being proactive and requesting our powerful presentation “Police need to STOP and THINK too!” – a session of our internationally acclaimed crime reduction CBT social skill series “Project STOP ‘n’ THINK”, which was delivered today, May 28, 2018, to their orienteering class of new recruits.

Again, St Christopher and Nevis Police Force takes the lead in emotional training and beckons other police services of the Caribbean to follow!

Dr Neals J. Chitan holds a doctorate in Social and Behavioral Sciences and is the Grenadian-born president of Motiv-8 For Change International — a Toronto based High Impact Social Skill Agency that is specially dedicated to the social empowerment of individuals, families and communities. He can be reached regionally at 869-662-3606 and from North America 647-692-6330 or email: [email protected]

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