Police Chief Welcomes Dialogue with Gang Members

Commissioner of Police Celvin G. Walwyn has stressed that his door remains open to persons wishing to come in and discuss ways of leaving the life of a gang member behind.

During an exclusive interview with St. Kitts Nevis Information Service (SKNIS), Commissioner Walwyn disclosed that he has had positive interactions with some individuals and has been able to effect behavioural change in certain cases.

“By dialoguing with these young men, we are understanding where they are coming from, but they also know where we are coming from, and I can truly say up to this point, [since] my dialogue with these young men … I have not had one shooting. I’ve not had one stabbing, nothing from this particular group,” he stressed.

Commissioner Walwyn has developed a number of plans and networked with local and regional agencies to find alternative opportunities for the young men to be engaged productively. One such activity provided entrepreneurial training for current and ex-gang members, as well as several inmates of Her Majesty’s Prison. The skills were imparted during a workshop held in collaboration with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat in mid-November. The participants expressed pleasure with the activity and touted the access to a number of support structures.

Other initiatives will come on stream in 2012. One targeted programme is modeled after an agriculture-based initiative in Jamaica, which has been very successful as an outreach tool.

“All we’re doing is trying to make this place safer,” Commissioner Walwyn stressed, while expressing an interest to meet with other gang members. Recently “I had another set of gang members contact me and want to have a meeting. … If they are willing to talk, I am willing to listen.”

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