St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): If the police want the public’s cooperation, they would first have to re-establish a relationship of trust with the people in the communities of St. Kitts and Nevis.
This is according to Dan McMullen, an ex-member of Operation Future who spoke to WINN FM on the growing trend of violent crime in the federation.
Mr. McMullen says that current security tactics by the local police force are the cause of the erosion of trust between the public and the security forces as the police operate on a more reactive basis as opposed to taking a more proactive approach to crime fighting.
“There has to be a leadership role, right now there’s a big conflict going around with regards to recent shootings that have taken place in Nevis, a very high profile shooting and the big criticism is that the public is not talking to the police. The public is not talking, well, let’s be practical, have the police done anything in recent years that would sustain trust from the public? So the police are saying we can’t solve crimes because you’re not talking to us, and the public is saying it’s not up to us to establish the trust, you are the public servant.”
Mr. McMullen expressed outrage about the lack of police officers during a recent cricket match in Cotton Ground, where a young man from Rawlins Village was gunned down on the field. According to Mr. McMullen, it is widely known that there is an ongoing ‘gang war’ between young men from those two villages.
“The fact that we can have a youth gunned down at a cricket match, in Cotton Ground, in the middle of the day is insane. We have Cotton Ground, a known hotbed for gang activity. We have a cricket team coming in with players from Rawlins, another area of known gang activity, both areas have been known to be in conflict with each other. There’s been a war between Rawlins and Cotton Ground for a long period of time so the cricket match comes off and there’s not a uniformed police officer to be seen. Why not? They’re probably in the police station one hundred yards away watching cricket. They clearly have to be aware that there’s a potential for a problem here, you have gang members from a rival gang coming into this territory and we can’t be bothered to go out in a uniform and sit in the stands.”
Fostering a better relationship with the community forms a major part of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force’s Six Point Plan Initiative. This includes developing community partnerships with grass root organizations to address and find solutions to social and other problems in the communities, constant engagement through town hall meetings and walk-throughs, development of a victim support mechanism to keep families informed of the status and progress of the investigations, and introduction of Neighbourhood Resource Officers who reside in the communities and can assist police with local knowledge of the community.