Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 05, 2017 (SKNIS): Seventy-two students from public schools in St. Kitts graduated from the Teen and Police Service (TAPS) Academy on Monday 4, December 2017.  The students were awarded certificates for successfully completing the 11-week course at a ceremony held at the Sir Cecil Jacobs Auditorium.


To graduate, students had to attend sessions regularly and should have exhibited a change in behavior by the end of the programme.  Six students received special awards as the most improved participants and another six for being the most diligent. At present, the programme is facilitated by three police officers – Constables Lauston Percival, Neikisha Thomas and Mark Handley – who are assigned to two schools each.  Constable Handley presented a gift to one of his students whose initiative he thought was worthy of note. The local TAPS Academy coordinator is Inspector Rosemary Isles-Joseph.


The TAPS Academy was reintroduced in schools this year and is a joint initiative between the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force, the Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Education.  Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, the Honourable Shawn Richards, said his ministry supported the re-introduction of the programme in schools. He also expressed that they were pleased with and excited about the work the police were doing in all secondary schools. Minister Richards described the Academy as a youth empowerment programme.


During the ceremony, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Osmond Petty, explained that although the start of the programme was delayed because of the disruption caused by the passage of two major hurricanes, schools were still able to complete the curriculum. Topics discussed included conflict resolution, gang membership, bullying, team building, drugs, nutrition, as well as sexting and dating abuse.  Mr. Petty explained that several challenges prevented public schools in Nevis from participating in the first cycle.  He added that police officers had been identified and the TAPS Academy should be implemented as of January.


Commissioner of Police, Ian Queeley, said that, for him, the TAPS Academy represented the way forward. He also commended the officers for their commitment to the students and in administering the programme.


Remarks and words of encouragement were also given by the Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris; the co-founders of the TAPS Academy, Dr. Everette Penn, and Assistant Chief Brian Lumpkin (Ret.); and Chief Education Officer, Dr. Tricia Esdaille.