TOWARDS A CRIME-FREE ISLAND
This week media representatives were called to a press conference by the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Paul Morrison, who announced the setting up of a Serious Crime Command Unit. The all-male group of detectives has been formed from among the current membership of the 100-odd law enforcement agency. Some thirteen new recruits are being trained in Barbados, and the Commissioner has indicated that such is the urgent need to stem the tide of serious crime in Anguilla that he cannot wait for the return of the trainees to deploy the Unit. Of course it must be understood that the recruits would, at this juncture, be inexperienced and probably not very tactful in criminal duties and procedures. However, at least their availability and service would perhaps enable and entail a line of duties which may augment and enhance the operation of the special Unit.
Whatever may be the perceived strengths or weaknesses of the new policing initiative, the fact is that something must be done to bring hope to an island which, in the Commissioner’s words, “is bleeding” from gun violence. Simply put, to do nothing is to surrender to the criminals and permit the destruction of our beloved island home and the productive lives of our young men. We cannot choose any of these alternatives and must answer the call for action here and now.
The Commissioner revealed that so far, from 2007 to the present time, there have been 23 murders in Anguilla. This is a staggering statistic, so to speak, when one considers the smallness of the island, its long heritage of peace and quiet, law and order and religious persuasion. Worse still, perhaps, is that, according to the Commissioner, only about five of the murders have been solved. It is no wonder then that the Police must be scratching their heads and twiddling their fingers to protect their professional reputation, find the culprits and bring a happy ending to the madness through detection and the court process both of which, admittedly, can be a long journey. No wonder, too, is the community worried about the despicable crimes but sadly, also, is the fact that our people are doing nothing or very little to assist the Police in their investigations. All of this must, of necessity, spur Commissioner Morrison and all ranks of the Force to devise some method whereby crime can be curtailed, if not wiped out, with or without the cooperation of the public – although the public’s involvement is really a great asset. The public may even be the greatest source of intelligence in Anguilla, and its members should take pride in that compliment and act accordingly.
The unfortunate spate of murders and wounding by gunfire has overshadowed and interrupted the progressive work of the Police in dealing with major crime in real time in some ways. As mentioned in a previous Editorial, each such incident detracts the Police in their investigations of a previous incident of serious crime. Further, incident by incident delays action on a well-conceived initiative – like the stillborn Police Plan of which Commissioner Morrison has spoken so much about in the recent past. He has acknowledged that the policing plan for the community is in need of further visitation and indicated that some follow-up action is to be taken shortly. The hope is that it will turn out to be a means of preventing and addressing serious crime on the island.
Finally, the Commissioner has pledged to work during his three-year contract in such a manner that, by the time he is ready to leave the island, not only will the Royal Anguilla Police Force be well-developed, trained and effective, but crime will be well under control. He needs the support and cooperation of all and sundry to achieve that goal towards a crime-free island.