Basseterre, St. Kitts– Commissioner of Police for the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force, Mr Celvin G. Walwyn, who is a firm believer that ‘security is everybody’s business’ has turned to the People Employment Programme (PEP) to prove his point.
Mr Walwyn, a decorated law enforcement officer with many years of distinguished service overseas, returned to his country of birth and assumed the role of Commissioner of Police with effect from September 1, 2011 and hit the ground running.
Recognising that tourism is the main engine of growth for the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, and also recognising that the most important resource the country has is its people, he has come up with an ingenious way to have the two resources, tourism and the people, back each other for the benefit of the country.
The result is the formation of an ambitious arm of the police force, the Tourist Security Officer Programme that will be manned by workers from the People Employment Programme, which is headed by Mr Geoffrey Hanley who is best known for unearthing the hidden talents of this country’s youth.
“Sergeant Ricardo Sampson and myself travelled to the State of Oregon, the city of Portland, where we met with police officials in that state,” said Commissioner Walwyn on Tuesday February 4, in an interview conducted in his office.
“We were presented with a portion of the items needed to begin the Tourist Security Officer Programme. Our uniforms are in place, and we are still sourcing some of the PEP workers to enter into this programme.”
According to the Commissioner of Police, who was flanked by Sergeant Ricardo Sampson, initially 25 PEP workers will be trained as Island Constables meaning that when they are on duty they will be police officers.
“The actual training for an island constable is three weeks,” observed Mr Walwyn. “But I will extend it to a month because I want to bring someone to teach them how to ride the police bicycles and the police motorcycles so we can have some on motorcycles and some on bicycles and the rest will be on foot.”
The officers will have the same rights and privileges of the regular police, meaning that they can issue citations, they can request someone to stand or to go and they can make arrests, as they are full-fledged police officers when they are on duty.
“We are also teaching them the Prescribed Areas Act and we are also teaching them the Vendors’ Act and they will be enforcing these two Acts in the prescribed areas during the times that tourists’ boats are in,” observed Mr Walwyn.
When the tourists’ season is over, members of this programme will be absorbed into the regular duties of the police force and they will be patrolling around Basseterre and in the outstations.
“This is coming about because we were able to source local people through PEP, to be part of this programme,” remarked the Commissioner.
“It is our way of capacity building using our local people. Right now we are starting with 25 who will augment the regular tourist patrol, which is staffed by regular constables, and that may expand at a later date based on the amount of tourists coming in to the Federation.”
He added that the People Employment Programme has also provided other highly successful workers within the law enforcement agency and he mentioned Ms Sandra Stevens who is currently manning the security desk at the Lozack Road entrance of the Police Headquarters’ building.
“The young lady (Ms Stevens) downstairs had some security training in the past, and she came to us through PEP, and we were able to marry her to the job that she was comfortable doing, and I can tell you that since she has been there security at the backdoor has increased,” said the Commissioner of Police.
“I do not have to worry about people bypassing anybody at the backdoor anymore. That lady does her job. We also have another PEP person, who used to be with Port a long time ago, and we took her and married her to a position over by the Stanford Building, so when you go to the Stanford Building that officer you see there is also a PEP person.”