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New Police Commissioner wants more collaboration between police and community in preventing criminal activity

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by Kevon Browne

St. Kitts and Nevis WINN):  The new Commissioner of Police (COP), Mr James Sutton, calls for a collaborative approach to combatting crime in St. Kitts and Nevis.

“I would like to continue the partnership with the community. The police force cannot do the job of crime prevention by [itself]. Let us pool our resources together; the community, police, [and] government and let us take St. Kitts to a better place for all to benefit. Let us all support each other; we may have personal differences – as human beings, we’re going to have infractions – but there are many ways to deal with these infractions. At the end of the day, the safety and security of all in St. Christopher and Nevis [are] paramount to all of us.”

The Police Commissioner made that clarion call during an interview on WINN’s Island Tea with Azard Gumbs on March 3.

In Commissioner Sutton’s vision for the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force, he sees the organisation as a professional institution and wants increased transparency and consistency in its operations.

Despite that vision, there are concerns to be addressed.

“We can look at the way the police respond to [people] – the way we communicate with people – so we have to look at our training needs. We have to look at our traffic – the number of accidents we’re having. That is one of the other areas that is of concern to me. We have to look at our relationship [with] other agencies because we need cooperation, we need partnership, [and] we need to support each other. And we have to look at technology. How best can we maximise technology? We have to look at the human resource within the organisation; one of the things we can look at is training. How do the officers conduct themselves? The deportment, because that speaks a lot because if police officers do not present themself properly to the public, the public will not speak with them.”

A caller to the program questioned the police’s approach to handling the level of crime in the Federation and offered some suggestions.

“You know, we’ve been looking at a spike in the, you know, violent crimes. Is there any special tactic they’re going to use to try to curb that? You know, the gang mentality of the guys there now and the crimes, you know, there’s been a lot of gang activities in recent years and, you know, like some people have used the strategy of leaving the older guys alone and targeting the youngsters in the schools. So I want to know if this Commissioner is going to try to put in some work or have they been doing any type of like visits the schools to talk to the youths in order to try to move the next generation?”

“My approach would be targeted hotspot policing, where we’ve identified [people] and areas and give [them] more attention in regards to crime. Having that presence in these Community and engaging these [people] is a way of reducing and preventing crime. Because the [police’s] main job is to prevent crime; if we can prevent crime, it would cost the country less.”  – Commissioner of Police James Sutton.

Regarding the weapons used in recent criminal activity, Sutton reminded the public that there is work to be done on securing what he calls our “porous borders”.

“We suspect the weapons could be coming from a number of ways because, you know, we have porous borders; that is one. A few times, we have seen them come through the legal port, and that is why I said we have to strengthen the cooperation with different agencies. With the cooperation with different agencies, [people] might be aware of the trends that are taking place.”

Sutton said that while there is a unit focused on crime prevention through interactions with schools and young people, there needs to be renewed efforts in the approach.

“We have a unit called the National Crime Prevention Team that communicates with the schools, and even though you have that unit, you also have School Liason Officers – officers assigned to different schools. I will have to put some more interest into [that] because our youths mean a lot to us. If you can deter these people from going outside the realms of our normal behaviour, that will go a long way. Most of the time, all some of these people need is [someone] to speak with them and show them and encourage them a different way of life. And it’s not up to the police only; the [people] in the community could contribute as well.” – The new Commissioner of Police (COP), Mr James Sutton, on Island Tea.

See the full interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2dhGw4Z5ZI.

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