A SIX (6) POINT PLAN OF ACTION TO REDUCE HOMICIDES AND VIOLENT CRIMES IN THE FEDERATION OF ST. KITTS AND NEVIS
Creating and maintaining public safety and an atmosphere of peace and tranquility are among the Police most fundamental obligations to the citizens. The safety of one’s person and security of one’s property are widely viewed as basic human rights that are essential to the community’s overall quality of life.
Whenever crime and/or the fear of crime permeates the society and cause the citizenry to be uncomfortable, and does not feel, reasonably safe, other critical government functions such as economic development, government finance, public education, stable housing, and basic government services become that much more difficult to provide. In short, a community’s reputation for good public safety heavily influences its appeal as a place live, work, to raise a family or transact business. Therefore, providing real and perceived public safety is one of any government’s more complex and challenging undertakings and by extension its compromise can be detrimental. In order to achieve that level of comfort, all stakeholders (parents, teachers, community leaders’ churches, and other NGO’s) must play their part.
In recent times (3-4 years), the statistics on a consistent basis indicate that all categories of Major Crimes are trending downwards with the exception of homicides and shootings. Notwithstanding that fact, our Federation continues to be under the microscope mainly because of the upward trend in these violent crimes, specifically those committed with the use of firearms. This is unacceptable by all standards and the consequences can be dire.
However, as important as it often is for the Police to apprehend offenders so that they can be held legally accountable for their crimes, and as important as it is for Police to comfort and assist crime victims, it is equally important that Police and others work to prevent crime in the first place. At least in the long term, reacting to crime is always more costly than preventing it.
Unfortunately, the Police is usually assessed and rated in terms of reported crime, arrest numbers, cases solved, and patrol response times etc., but these measures alone grossly distort the true picture of the quality of policing service that we provide. For example, the primary objective of policing is the prevention of crime and to enhance the public’s sense of security, and not merely to enforce the law for its own sake, simply counting arrest numbers tells us rather little about police effectiveness.
The homicides and violent crimes are not evenly distributed across the Federation. Rather, they are heavily concentrated among relatively few offenders, happening to relatively few victims, occurring in relatively few places, and involving relatively few target types. Investing in the data collection and analysis tools necessary to identify the repeat offenders, repeat victims, hot spots and focus our attention where it is most needed.
Although the police force is only one facet of the crime fighting machinery, we are mandated to lead this fight against crime. This is very serious undertaking and must without delay develop and implement a plan of action to supress this unacceptably disturbing trend. This Action Plan is based on our Core Values and Guiding Principles and represents just the start of our efforts. There is nothing fancy about this plan. It is built on proven “Best Practices” of policing strategies.
It is therefore designed to reduce homicides and violent crimes within the Federation and eventually eliminate the fear of crime within the various communities. Our efforts will also be sustained over time, and as crime trends and patterns shift so will our deployment in order to aggressively tackle concentrated pockets of violent crimes.
Additionally, the plan will also ensure that the police can more effectively address the multitude of specific and varied public safety issues that we are tasked with on a daily basis. So in short, this is how we intend to reduce the fear of crime, prevent and fight crime in the Federation.
This Plan of Action is intended to achieve our goal of reducing homicides and violent crimes by thirty to fifty percent (30%-50%) over the next three to five (3-5) years. The time has come for this Police Force to set bold and aggressive goals in reducing crime and apply the necessary resources to achieve those goals. Consistent with that, by the end of calendar year 2015, we will implement strategies intending to:
- Reduce homicides by twenty percent (20%)
- Reduce the number of shooting incidents where injuries occur by twenty percent (20%)
- Reduce the number of shooting incidents where no injuries occur by twenty percent (20%)
- Increase two-fold the number of guns taken off the streets. In 2014, a total of twelve (12) guns taken off the streets. To date (June 2015) we have already
- removed ten (10) guns.
- Increase the solvency rate of homicide and violent crimes by fifteen (15%)
> Deployment of the Mobile Command Unit at least four (4) times per week in various communities and hotspots to deter and improve police visibility.
> High visibility policing – Foot and mobile patrol in known hotspots.
> Reinstate the School Liaison Officer Programme so as to encourage positive activities after school, at nights and on the weekends.
> Strengthen Mentoring Advising Guiding Instructing Children (MAGIC) and Teens and Police Service (TAPS) programs and develop closer collaboration with Operation Future to reach at risk youth.
> Reinstate the Police Boys Club and enhance the program, affording the opportunity for more boys to participate.
> Surveillance cameras are excellent tools to document and prosecute criminals, but their mere presence has a dramatic deterrent effect, thus preventing crime in the immediate area.
> Establish data base of known criminals, gang members and associates (complete profile accompanied with photos).
> Immediate implementation of the CCTV Project
> Expanded Surveillance Program to include the use of drones and UC Operatives
> Digital geographical mapping of the Federation
> Use of current statistical data analysis to monitor changing trends and patterns
> Utilization of social media
> Establishment of a Joint Intelligence Centre (JIC) (Police/Immigration, Customs, Defence Force, Prison, Fire & Rescue Services) to collect and disseminate intelligence timely.
> Review and adjust staffing levels in various Divisions (Policing Districts, Departments/Sections and Specialized Units to ensure they are consistent with the days and time of day crimes are occurring.
> Review deployment of detectives based on workload to enhance the quality of investigations and successful closure.
> Immediately implement island-wide aggressive Vehicle Check Point (VCP’s).
> Target known offenders and their associates executing at least three (3) Search Warrants per day for drugs and firearms.
> Traffic Enforcement exercises at least three (3) times per week. (with a focus on dark tint).
> Daily operations at the Seabridge, other seaports and jetties by the tactical units (Drug Squad, Task Force and K9 Unit).
> Regular Joint operations with Customs and Defence Force.
> Reassign and return uniform officers from some administrative assignments to tactical and Patrol duties.
> Increase use of K9 in operations.
> Strengthen the SSU to provide a twenty-four (24) hours patrol and quick response mechanism in all Divisions.
> Develop community partnerships with organizations such as churches, sporting groups, PTA’s and other NGO’s to address and find solutions to social and other problems in the communities.
> Establish neighbourhood watches.
> Constant engagement through town hall meetings and walk-throughs etc.
> Development of a victim support mechanism to keep families informed of the status and progress of the investigations.
> Reactivate the Retired Police Officers Association to share their experience and solicit input on crime fighting initiatives.
> Entrenchment of Police Drum and Cadet Corps into the working of the Police Force to instil discipline and provide a positive alternative to delinquency.
> Introduce a regular radio/TV call-in program to update the community and solicit suggestions.
> Regular feature in newspapers- the “Law and You”.
> Regular consultation with business community to discuss safety and security issues.
> Introduction of Neighbourhood Resource Officers (NRO). These are Officers residing in community who can assist Police with local knowledge of the community.
> Establish the Criminal Justice Strategic Board (CJSB) to develop protocols with the judiciary to ensure that backlogs of certain cases
are disposed of in a timely manner to bring perpetrators to justice Speedily and enforcement of curfews.
> Frequent strategy meetings with Customs and Defence Force to ensure that our resources are focused and their use is maximized.
> Share crime data with respective communities.
> Certain conditions facilitate violent crimes, therefore we will create interagency teams i.e. Ministry of Health, Public Works Department and other agencies to destroy all abandoned buildings and derelict vehicles (firearms hidden in them).
> Encourage Ministry of Education and Social Services to reinvigorate the truancy programs.
> Establish closer working relationship with Private Security Firms to develop and maintain minimum standards.
Continuous Improvement and Administration
> On-going Training in all areas (general policing, specialised training and refresher training) some of which have been proposed under the 10th EDF Program.
> Facilities and equipment (including appropriate vehicles for movement of troops and prisoners, properly outfitted vehicles).
> Response time to calls for assistance
> Review and revise where applicable laws, regulations, policies and Standing Orders etc.
> Adopt “Best Practices”.
> Establishment of a Research and Development department.
> Maximize the use of technology and forensic science in routine and daily operations (E-trace, Ballistics (RIBIN), AFIS, and CCTV etc.)
> Improve performance appraisal for all ranks.