My Fellow citizens and residents,
I am honoured to be invited to formally open Police Week 2016. I congratulate Commissioner Ian Queeley and his high command for reintroducing Police Week after some 10 years of dormancy. Police services are critical to our quality of life and development and we should pause at regular intervals to salute our fine men and women in uniform.
Creating safer communities for everyone is fundamental for nation building.I want everyone: nationals, residents, visitors and businesses to feel safe and secure in St Kitts and Nevis and for us to be a law abiding nation.
Former US President, John F Kennedy once said:
“The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.”
Those rights are to be able to live and thrive in a safe environment. But who creates that safe environment? Well, we naturally look to our police officers as upholders of the law to do this – but they can only do this when they walk hand in hand, step by step, with each and every one of you. In order to do this, they need to build better relationships with people in our communities across the Federation and that is what Police Week is about. It’s about “Creating a Better Federation Through Enhanced Citizen Safety.”
I wish to stress that citizen safety is the ultimate goal of law enforcement organizations such as the Police and all other security agencies, the penitentiary or prison system and the judiciary system. Improving citizen security in the Federation requires addressing the spectrum of crime and violence prevention and institutional strengthening across all sectors of the criminal justice system.
In an attempt to keep the communities and citizens safe, the citizens and police must cooperate. Law enforcement must perform their duties without fear and favour while being sympathetic. Officers must display an attitude that would encourage community collaboration to build confidence in the relationship between law enforcement and the communities. According to recommendations from the UNDP, in order to create a better Federation through enhanced citizen safety, a multifaceted approach is required. Such an approach helps countries to integrate violence prevention and crime control measures; targeting a broad range of issues, such as lack of social cohesion, impunity, drug trafficking, the proliferation of illegal firearms, human trafficking and migration
Improving citizen security requires us to place greater emphasis on activities to prevent and control the factors that generate violence and insecurity in our communities, rather than merely engaging in reactive behaviours to consummated acts. Creating a community where citizens have a peace of mind with regards to crime is a fundamental component of economic development.
Through a range of activities over the course of the coming week, the police are providing opportunities which enable them to work more closely with us, as well as for us to find out more about them and the work that they do. Rather than seeing them at a distance, it’s a chance to spend time with them.
The breaking of bread talked about in Acts (Acts 1:3) has given rise to the modern phrase:
“The family that breaks bread together, stays together.”
In a sense this is what Police Week is about, it’s about sharing our common humanity, worshipping together, taking part in sports, ceremonies, parades, social activities and simply conversing.
More importantly it is about blurring those boundaries that are often falsely set between the police and the community because after all, our police officers come from our communities. They are one of us. The only thing that sets them apart is that they have answered the calling to uphold those rights and ensure that St Kitts and Nevis is a safer place for all.
Building a safer society, can only be achieved by working together in unity, by asking ourselves what kind of society do we want for ourselves and for our children? And what role can we play in helping us to achieve this, together?
This means that every day we have to live our lives as if we are the “Good Samaritan”. Not crossing the road when we see a wrong doing and pretending we didn’t see anything, not walking by when we see someone in need of help, but having the courage to stop, to help and to do the right thing in reporting a wrong doing when we have information that can help bring justice to the victims and their families.
I know that to do this, takes a lot of courage and sometimes we find it easier to confide in a friend, rather than a stranger. So I urge you to
use this week to make friends with the police. Join them in the many activities so that when you need their help or you want to help others, you can find a friendly face in whom to confide. Don’t let them be a stranger to you and don’t forget that they are our brothers and sisters who are doing a job that many would shun because of the courage it requires. They are there to help us but we need to help them if they are going to succeed in keeping us safe.
This week is about engaging with everyone, of all ages, all genders, all faith, all dispositions and across all cultures. It is a week for everyone to enjoy and to discover more. Our next generation might even be inspired to take up that calling to create a safer society for us all and if they do, they will make us very proud.
So I say to everyone across the nation, take up the invitation to participate in the events slated to mark Police Week. You can find out more about the events on the Police Facebook page. There is something in there for everyone. Go out and enjoy yourselves and the company of each other and support our police service in their noble efforts to work more closely with you to build the kind of society that gives you peace of mind and of which you can be truly proud.
May God bless you all.