By Monique Washington
The Royal St. Kitts and Nevis Police Forceis training with the Regional Security System (RSS) in preparation to become an accreditedpolice force in the region.
The police have received many benefits since joining the RSS 31 years ago, Police Commissioner Ian Queeley noted during a Town Hall meeting in Nevis at the Red Cross Building in Charlestown.
“The Regional Security System has contributed much in terms of capacity-building to the development of this organization,” the commissioner said. “The deputy director is here because he is leading the process by which we intend, within short order, to have all member states of the RSSaccredited.”
He added that by becoming an accredited organization the police force will be more able to face the day-to-day challenges involved in policing the Federation.
Assistant Commissioner of Police, Terrence James, told the Observer on Wednesday it is very important to become an accredited force.
“Right now there are a number of civil suits against the police force,” James said. “After we become accredited the officers will carry out their duties according to law. They will know how to handle citizens in the proper way.”
James pointed out human rights are major topic addressed during the accreditation training.
“We have signed on to the United Nations,” James said.“They have human rights standards.Their guidelines include placing beds in cells, how to handle persons when they are arrested, gender discrimination and provision of wheelchair ramps at each station, things like that.”
James pointed out that Barbados is the only island in the Caribbean with an accredited police force. He said the SKN police force has been granted permission to use the Barbados training model. Due to this, James said it should only take the SKN Police three years to be accredited.
The RSS Training Institute will facilitate training sessions and police officers will also have to participate, according to James. DeputyExecutive Director of the RSS Bertie Hinds of Barbados will oversee the training to make sure the correct processesare followed.
The RSS was created due to the need for a collective response to security threats, which were impacting the stability of the region in the late 70’s and 80’s.
In October, 1982, four members of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) (Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Barbados to provide for mutual assistance on request. St. Kitts and Nevis joined in 1985. RSS has requested that all member states become accredited.
Currently the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis and Minister in charge of National Security the Hon. Dr.TimothyHarris serves as the RSS chairperson.