NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS – Hon. Eric Evelyn, Deputy Premier of Nevis, is encouraging police officers in the Nevis Division of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force (RSCNPF) to foster a closer relationship with members of the community, as such a partnership can play a critical role in the fight against crime.
He was at the time speaking at the Division’s New Year Celebration Service, held on January 11, 2023 under the theme: “Police and Community Sharing Responsibility: Taking Action in Unity”.
“I love the theme that has been chosen today…Whatever gains you make as the Police Force, the community should be right there, and the theme speaks to taking responsibility together, police and the community. You must take responsibility if you want to continue to see the rewards and the benefits that you should get. You are responsible as individuals and as the Police Force. You are responsible to make sure that you are respectable at all times….You need to respect your uniform, you need to respect yourselves, you need to respect your fellow officers, and you need to respect the members of the community, because unless you respect the members of the community they will continue to shun their responsibility to help you with the solving of crime.”
He encouraged the law enforcement officers to be courteous and professional when interacting with civilians, even in circumstances where firmness is needed. Hon. Evelyn, himself a community leader for many years, pointed out how detrimental it could be to the overall crime fighting effort on Nevis when members of the society have a negative impression of the police due to perceived disrespect or mistreatment.
“When you are dealing with the community the onus is on you the officers to be pleasant. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being firm, because you must be firm in the execution of your duties, but you can be firm and you can be pleasant at the same time. You do not have to flaunt your [authority]. I’m asking you to please be as pleasant with the community as possible; you need their support at all times…You cannot do it alone as a police force so you must forge and build a partnership with the community. You must build trust. You must build their confidence and unless you do that you will not get the support of the community at all.
“A lot of the times there are bad feelings out there from the community, justifiable or not, against the police officers, and sometimes you as the officers are the ones who create this feeling among the community, and so you have to try to make that change in 2023 and beyond. Go out there, walk through, build relationships, speak to people, let them trust you, let them have that confidence in you. Remember, we are trying to ensure that we are taking the responsibility together and we are taking action in unity.”
He continued, “You have the responsibility to be confidential. Too many times we hear that members of the community want to assist in solving crime, they call the police station with some information, and within ten minutes the information is out in the public, the information goes back to the criminal element. If you have been involved in that, that needs to stop now… Persons will continue to not want to come forward to give information and to give evidence, and of course we know how important evidence is with respect to solving crime.”
Hon. Evelyn, who represented Premier Hon. Mark Brantley at the service, pledged the NIA’s renewed commitment to the full support of the work of the police on Nevis.
Her Honour Mrs. Hyleeta Liburd, Deputy Governor-General for Nevis, also admonished officers to nurture an element of trust within the communities they work, which will redound to the benefit of all who reside on the island. She advised officers to build strong relationships of mutual respect and care among the rank and file if they are to create a similar bond with the people they serve.
“The theme that has been chosen is right on target. Your theme speaks about responsibility being shared between the community and the police but…it begins with the police. Inside the house has to be strong, so you have to be moving as a team, speaking to the community as a team. You have to work with each other; if you cannot work with each other you cannot work with the community.”
Superintendent James Sutton, Divisional Commander for Nevis, lauded the officers’ success in reducing crime by 15 percent during 2022. He too counseled the senior and junior ranks to cultivate a cordial relationship with the public, while calling on citizens and residents to seek to be productive, law-abiding citizens.
“I would like to dissuade persons who have the propensity to commit crimes, to change their attitude from destroying image our communities and to utilize many of the programs that are available. Regardless of the problems that we face, I am optimistic that with candor and determination we will grow the trust of the public and achieve our desired result in making the Division a safer place all to enjoy.”