In broad daylight this week Nevis experienced yet another murder – a brutal execution style – mafia-esque – gang-like slaying. In Gingerland, near a large supermarket, but even closer to the high school, (students visibly and understandably shaken) and not far at all from the primary school, indeed very close to the Police Station, another youth gunned down at relatively close range while painting a citizen’s railing and gate. The assassin was reportedly masked and seen running through the bush. Reports indicate that he was apprehended later that day. If the right man was indeed caught we should applaud the good efforts of the police and a community that is beginning to appreciate that without its assistance the violence and crime will not see a reduction – not now, not ever! Instead of getting better, the state of the nation’s security proverbially worsens before our very eyes and as we speak. The more vulnerable of the two islands in terms of an adequate security infrastructure, Nevis as predicted, is being used as the battleground for St. Kitts’ much more serious gang violence, since Nevis is the weak link in the chain and the most porous part of the system. Interestingly and eerily, a sitting prime minister has never been closer to Nevis’ politics! Can the Premier and the Prime Minister not figure out a solution to the present decline in security and the dramatic upsurge in violence and crime on Nevis? Might we see an amendment to the Constitution proposed that allows the Premier to become minister of national security? According to the Premier the recent move to vacate the Nevis legal adviser post and upgrade it to Minister of Justice and Attorney General was designed to help Nevis in several ways, not the least of which was to purportedly devolve powers from the Federal Government to the NIA. Might Nevis be assisted more or less perhaps with the Prime Minister being allowed to dabble increasingly into Nevis’ politics? Can we expect to see an increase in force strength on Nevis any time soon for example? Shouldn’t we expect perhaps an assistant commissioner stationed on Nevis? As represented in the Observer Newspaper, Friday, March 5 Edition, in commenting on the PM’s weekly radio address the previous tuesday, the PM reportedly states that a teenage shooting at a house party was insanity and a form of psychosis. He went on to comment on the big picture of crime and the social ills in our society, offering a fix to the ‘far reaching effects of these violent crimes’ By stating, “we have to find effective and lasting ways to dramatically strengthen those psychological, physical, moral internal personal restraints that keep law abiding citizens law abiding.” Well to do this Mr Prime Minister we need dramatic and immediate increases in the spending on social services to provide desperately needed resources for parents and families. Psychologists, counselors, therapists and social workers brought in to the Federation to bolster the dearth of these services, could greatly achieve this objective. Values have badly eroded in our society, parents appear to no longer be in charge of their youths and social institutions generally, including the family, have weakened considerably over the past twenty or so years. Mr PM, ranting, preaching, moralizing and lecturing families is not the answer, frankly! They need professional guidance and support since many of them have lost their way for a variety of reasons. With a population size of close to 50,000, the Federation has only a handful of trained persons to supposedly confront the many social ills which plague the society. This is tantamount to sending an army of 15 to fight a war against an army of 15,000. Crime and violence represent only a symptom of much deeper problems in our Country. Some of these bigger problems are social, some are spiritual, some political while some are obviously economic. But, we must be clear as a nation and understand that violence among youth, a gang culture, dramatic increases in house break-ins and robberies which now take on a more brazen and violent feature than ever, are symptomatic of much broader and more deep seated challenges which we face as a people and a country. The Prime Minister in that particular radio address on March 2nd, went on to discuss his thoughts on the solution to our nightmare. He called for “national multi-lateral dialogue to identify ways of raising upstanding, socially responsibly children as a means of reversing or eliminating the recent trend of societal dysfunction among the youth”. Mr PM did you mean dialogue among politically homogeneous entities to further political ends and objectives? Or did you mean REAL dialogue Sir? Dialogue between persons of different political persuasions which you would initiate; dialogue between key stakeholders in the private and public sector? Or are we perhaps Mr PM all dialogued out? And now perhaps we just need ACTION! Concerted action that shores up the weakened areas in families who need parental and child guidance to figure out how to raise children who simply are out of control. Action that provides much greater attention and funding to the Operation Future initiative which brings together VOLUNTEER dedicated police officers with persons from the private sector to the primary school children every week with strategies aimed at both intervention and prevention. Action Mr PM that brings all of your police officers together immediately through a properly directed, well coordinated training program focused on the virtues and urgency of community policing. Action Mr PM that would aggressively recruit new officers and add force strength, vehicles, up to date equipment; dignity, better salaries and working conditions for our hard working men and women in uniform who risk their lives every day trying to protect us all without much support and appreciation. We do need action now and an abrupt end to dialogue without sure and steadfast action! Our Prime Minister needs to, and I humbly offer for his consideration, reassess his entire approach to law enforcement and security. While it may be no fault of theirs per se, the PM needs to look at his managers and evaluate their effectiveness with a results based, hard look and hold accountable his commissioners, superintendents and all those in leadership in national security, including his highly and over-paid FBI Consultant. In my view he needs to see the problem of crime as not just being symptomatic of something deeper (and address the deeper issues) but appreciate that to properly resolve and address it means a two pronged approach: the law enforcement side and the more long term social strategies that aim at preparing the Country’s next generation – and put badly needed resources in both areas at the same time. Finally, the community needs to become more actively involved and have a specific role in the fix. One of the ways to do this is to try what has recently worked extremely well in Barbados with a community group called, “Crime Stoppers” who have successfully set up a program to get the community to offer tips to the Police without fear of reprisal and recrimination or worry about anonymity since the tips and reports to the police are taken By international operators based in Canada who have no way of knowing who the callers are. 357 tips were reported By a previously terrified public in a year with a number of crimes being solved as a result, including murders and robberies.
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