Caribbean Police Commissioners discussed informative topics

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS – Delegates to the recent Conference of the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police discussed a variety of informative topics ranging from Training Deficits in Caribbean Policing, Regional Drug Trends, Firearm Identification, and Emergency Management.

According to a release, seasoned professional, Dr. Marlilyn Jones, a native of Jamaica and an Associate Professor of California State University, Sacramento discussed the “Impact of Crime on Human Development from a Caribbean Perspective.”

The focus of her presentation touched on the recognition of the connection of gender and violence, the importance of human rights, and the primacy of crime prevention. Jones says, “creating social and gender equality is important.” Jones demonstrated that woman are disproportionally impacted by crime and can play an influential role in our communities as peacekeepers. One component of crime prevention is emphasis on addressing social problems. Disregard for these issues can result in police officials having to face them on the “back end”, whereas, the resources could be spent on education, healthcare, and other basic developmental needs on the “front end.”

Jones, also described the relevance of the “The Siamese Triplet of Development – Health, Peace, and Security”. These factors cannot be addressed in isolation, although they sometimes are due to budgetary constraints. Violent crimes occur in areas that are socially excluded. “Getting people out of these conditions by providing education, health services, social mobility, conflict resolutions, and a peaceful environment; can create the conditions and environment where individuals can coexist peacefully,” says Jones. Nationally Development Strategies have been developed to address violent crimes across the Caribbean.

She also mentioned that media influences on human behavior can be seen from the placement of news articles in local newspapers to the economic impact that the media can have when violent crimes are highlighted in national news.

Wanda Rosada, Intelligence Analyst from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), San Juan, Puerto Rico spoke about the vulnerability of our ports via maritime and air transportation. From a regional perspective, our ports are open to the trafficking of drugs and cash. Although all vessels and airlines cannot be completely monitored, over the past five years, increased searches and seizures have netted large quantities of cocaine, heroine, zanax, marijuana along with millions of dollars.

Maurice Cooper, VIPD’s Ballistic Analyst, gave a detailed overview of firearm identification, procedures, and new technologies along with equally effective alternatives for smaller communities. “Drugs and firearms are closely related, “As go drugs, so go firearms”, said Cooper.

Robert D. Paulson, the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), discussed the lessons learned from his experience in New Orleans, Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Paulson quoted R. Emerson, “Our strength grows out of our weakness” to demonstrate that lessons in preparedness can be learned from past mistakes. Not pointing the finger at anyone, he highlighted the shortfalls of the efforts of the local, state, and federal officials, focusing on the lack of imagination, investment, and the cohesion of elected officials. He did share the overall improvements made to the agency and emphasized how the territory and the region can take heed and follow suit. He offered recommendations to training for everyone, creating a standard response plan, communication back-ups, prepared pre-scripted mission assignments and having experience leaders in place.

Finally, Mark Walters, Director of the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) closed the session with a before and after discussion of the 17 million dollar overhaul that the local 911 system has experienced in the past two years. The new system became operational on St. Croix in July 2009 and on St. Thomas in November 2009.

The commissioners saw the 911 call center first-hand, as they toured the facility following the speakers’ presentations. The commissioners expressed that they were “extremely impressed” with the call center and its capabilities. They congratulated the Virgin Islands for being a leader in Caribbean policing by integrating modern technology into their policing methods.

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