by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN) – Violent crimes in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis has been at the fore of public discourse, especially since the country recorded four murders in 48 hours.
Many have called on the government to do more, and others have compared events now and when the Peace Program was functioning during the Team Unity Administration.
However, according to the authorities, the participants of the program have been suspected of abusing the initiative to perpetrate what it was meant to curtail.
Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Adams, in charge of Operations, revealed to the public during a press conference on June 7 that participants of the Alternative Lifestyle Pathways Program (Peace Program) were using the monies gained from the initiative to fund criminal activity.
“No system that you would put in place would ever be foolproof, and we should be aware of that. [People] who were engaged in some of these programs they were “using the program to their advantage”, and as a result, we are seeing what we are seeing today. [People] who we were bringing to the table and who were forging peace amongst [each other] in our view, using the program to their own benefit and using the program to perpetrate crime, and this is the result that we are seeing perpetrating in our communities today.”
Adams further explained, “Based on what we are seeing, [people] who are involved in the program… we are suspecting of perpetrating some of these heinous crimes in our society. I would agree… having some of these [people] being a part of the program could be challenging and could be risky. However, we are doing all that we can do to end what is happening in our communities.”
The Police have, in response to the recent string of murders, decided to increase their presence in communities considered hotspots.
ACP Adams outlined in some detail what hotspot policing entails, which includes targeting known gang members.
“It is basically increasing our presence in the various hot communities. We implement our community outreach measures. We also increase our search warrant capabilities in those areas, and we also do 24-hour surveillance and following and targeting of the respective gang members. These, from time to time, would work, but… it depends heavily on the general public, and we are happy that we are seeing, now some assistance from the general public. That is how we plan to approach our hotspot policing in engaging the general public. We rely heavily on those who are our eyes and our ears.”
Media raised concerns over the safety of people who may have pertinent information in relation to crimes and what safety measures the Police have in place to foster more corporation with people in the community.
“We have a Witness Protection Program that has been ongoing for many years, and I could almost say, stand to be corrected… that all the [people]/witnesses who have gone into that program they have been safe to date. None have been harmed, and so if a person has information they want to provide for us – of course, we encourage that – but are concerned for their safety, and that is expressed to us, or we have assessed that, then we have things that we can do to ensure that that person is safe. So we do have a program that will provide protection to [people] who are willing to give evidence but are fearful for their own safety. And we have done so successfully over the last couple of years.” – ACP Cromwell Williams.