NEW C.O.P. IN TOWN

I know that you bring, not only your credentials and experience, but also your commitment and zeal to make a difference for the better.

You will face great challenges.

Firstly, although you are a son of the soil, your years abroad will require you to get a clear perspective of your new surroundings and culture, both  in the community generally and in the Police Force which you now lead.

You will have to win over, motivate and mobilize, and, if necessary, neutralize people who, at first, and even for a while, may be uncomfortable with, or even hostile to, your presence.

You will have to lift the morale, the skills, the professionalism and the efficiency of the Police Force, and its credibility in the community.

You will be mandated  to lift the standard of service, although there is little or no money to fix or build infrastructure, and to tool, equip and improve conditions of work.

Recommendations have been made in the past as to how funds might be generated, without taxing our people, to build, upgrade, and so on. But thus far, Government has only waited on handouts from the private sector, from Taiwan, from Mexico(for two stations that are yet to be done), and for funds from the European Union. There is still no Youth facility to replace the Harris’ Home that was burned down (what, 20?) years ago, and with all of the money that we got from the Mexican Government, Dieppe Bay Police Station, about five years after construction started, still is unfinished, and Tabernacle is yet to start. The CCTV system is still more talk than anything else.

Police Stations are in a state of shameful disrepair. And Government is still paying rent, after over 25 years, for premises in Sandy Point  to house a Station.

Today, Mr. Commissioner, police officers do not even have shoes and belts. And bullets are in short supply.

You have your work cut out for you, Sir.

I imagine that you will have signed up on a 3-5 year contract which will be made up of a package of salary and allowances adding up to between $175,000.00 and $200,000.00 per year.

I will not condemn such a figure for a COP, especially if he or she is going to make a real difference, which, I am sure, you are determined to do.

I will, however, say this: regardless of how good a leader you are, you will not be able to get the job done without the support and commitment of a critical mass of your fellow commanders, plus the rank and file of the Police Force, and that includes Crossing Guards, Traffic Wardens, and the whole lot. While they have to know that you have their backs, they will need to know that they have your respect.

And they, like their counterparts in the other national security agencies, need a better package than what they presently receive. I have been advocating this for years, while insisting that the better package must be accompanied by overall improved professionalism, discipline, commitment, fitness and health, and by better results.

Also , monthly and annual awards, an annual Police gala, with prizes for winning officers and their families, as well as for good citizens who have worked well with the Police in that year, would be good.

I even came up with proposals as to how they could get more money( by providing security work for off-duty officers at Government facilities where, presently, private security firms are engaged, by broadening the scope of ticketing traffic and minor offenders, with the officers getting commissions, and so on) and how they might be able to gain in kind, for example, by offering them price discounts on land purchases from Government, duty discounts on home building  and car purchases, and so on.

With regard to conditions of work, I suggest you ask to be shown the report of Royal Canadian Mounted Police(RCMP)  Officer Johnson(2007-2008)  on a number of issues, and also the Blades report on the Police Sickout of 2007, both of which are instructive.

You might want to expedite the setting up of proper bus stops throughout St. Kitts and to improve the management of traffic generally, which is a good way to start showing that your Force is on control of the streets. It is also a good way to generate revenue for the Government.

Likewise for loitering and the pants-below-the-bum-with-boxer-shorts-widely exposed, public obscenity that passes for fashion these days.

I trust that, with your US experience, you will appreciate the great value of trained dogs, and that you will ramp up the K-9 Unit and keep it on its toes at all times, at functions, on the streets, sweeping areas, fields, etc.

The informant system might be something that catches your attention also, as you focus on the need to improve it and to be in a position to reward and protect informants on a quick and safe basis.

You might also want the Government to put lawyers from the Attorney General’s Chambers to do police prosecutions so that your officers can be freed of that duty. In addition, the broadening of the base of ticketing, to include small charges and other minor offences and violations, would reduce court time( and costs) and free up your officers to do more actual police work.

And speaking of freeing up, you might want to ask the Government to put civilians to do clerical jobs in the Force, and to put Coast Guard Officers to drive dignitaries when they come here so that your officers can be free to do their police work. This is what is done in Jamaica, the Bahamas, Trinidad and elsewhere. And it makes sense. And if these Coast Guard Officers are otherwise engaged, then Defence Force Volunteers can be put to duty.

You might even want to advise that you cannot afford to have  so many of your officers tied up guarding the private homes of Government high-ups, and that it would be best if these persons engaged a private security firm to do that work for, both in terms of manpower and technology. Nothing personal and no disrespect intended. And I am not referring to personal bodyguards. That is different.

What about asking the Government to hire two or three lawyers to do the more than 100 preliminary inquiries that have clogged up the police system and delayed justice for years, and to allow the Prison Act to work so that deserving long-sentence prisoners can earn their remissions according to law?

And what about asking the Government to build a new prison, say  in the Estridge area, so that the entire block can be used as Police Headquarters? You might be able to persuade the Government that the present Prison situation is a ticking time bomb, and that in addition to all of the other severe consequences that would attend an event, Police headquarters itself could be in jeopardy and many officers’ lives lost.

You will be tested to your very core by a  Prime Minister who will want you, not only to be personally and institutionally sympathetic to, and supportive of, him, but he will also expect you to do his bidding.

That was a reason, I am sure, in the appointments of your three immediate predecessors, Commissioners Fahie, Jeffers and Williams, their training, experience and abilities notwithstanding. And be assured that no disrespect whatsoever is intended here towards any of them.

However, it did not take long for  the first of the three mentioned gentlemen to  ‘disappoint’ his appointers. Some even said:”Man, he fooled us”. But Mr. Fahie did not fool them. It is they who fooled themselves.

Interference impedes the Force, and hurts the country.

The PM will want Special Branch to report directly to him( which is okay), even if it means putting you out of the loop( which is not okay), and especially so if he comes to see you as not being pliable.

He will have you under constant ‘watch’ by certain of his close advisers who, in these matters, seem to have gotten it wrong every time over the past sixteen years.

He will not be too troubled by your relationship with your Minister, as he will expect orders to come directly from him or on his behalf by one of his operatives, sometimes unbeknown to your own Minister. Even orders that are not his to issue to you.

Then you might hear how deserving a constable is of promotion to the rank of corporal, and so on up the ladder. Or how a particular person ought to be transferred and to which district or station.

And, I can assure you, Mr. Commissioner, quite apart from the short honeymoon which you will get from the public,  that everything that goes wrong will, insofar as the PM and his ‘fellers’ and yellers are concerned, be your fault( and of course, the Minister’s).

Try also  not to offend the leaders of the Nevis island Administration also. And if there is an officer in Nevis who they want transferred and you do not comply, it will be ‘hell and devil’ for you, Sir. Worse so since  the commanders in Nevis, to their credit, refused to screen people lining up to vote in the NIA elections of 11th July, 2011.

Watch your papers, Sir.

Then as the Federal elections approach, you could find yourself under incredible, additional pressure. Unless, of course, you turn out to be a pliable COP. And if you are not pliable, then the powers that be can wait for your departure in July, 2014 (I am presuming that you have a three-year contract), then have the elections with a puppet acting as COP.

Meanwhile, if you are not as pliable as you ‘need’ to be, every effort will be made to frustrate you, and to make you beg for the contract to be terminated prematurely.

Welcome to St. Kitts & Nevis, Sir.

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