CROWN COUNSEL TO THE POLICE: “TAKE CRITICISM IN STRIDE”
Mrs. Sherma Blaize-Sylvester, Crown Counsel (Civil) in the Attorney General’s Chambers in Anguilla, has made the point that “one of the advantages of community policing is that it reduces fear in the community.”
The Attorney-at-Law made the statement on Monday, January 23, while delivering a lecture to the Royal Anguilla Police Force now celebrating its 45th Anniversary and Police Week. Her lecture was based on the theme for Police Week: “Building Relationships for Peace and Unity – Community Police, a Joint Responsibility”.
She continued: “With an increased police presence in the neighbourhoods, residents and visitors feel more secure. This feeling of security helps the police establish trust with the community. As residents become more active in taking care of their community, they start to understand what officers actually do on a day-to-day basis and this improves police-community relations.”
Mrs. Blaize-Sylvester stressed that “a well-structured community policing system benefits the police service.” She went on: “It builds relationships for peace and unity between the police and the public and among members of the public altogether. It is the philosophy that differs from traditional law enforcement measures. In simple terms, it is a strategy that focuses on the police building ties and working closely with members of the communities in which they serve. This requires engaging members of the communities in crime prevention as well as in problem-solving.”
The Crown Counsel further stated: “A fundamental precept of community policing is one of mutual trust between the community and the police and this can only be built over a period of time. In establishing trust, the character and values of both parties are critical elements for success, bearing in mind that trust is not a commodity that can be bought – but must be earned. I know sometimes it may be difficult to earn the trust of the people particularly in a close-knit society where everyone is likely to be related, and would want to seek to protect their own and view the police as the outside. But you have to continue to try as by familiarizing yourselves with the members of the community, officers are more likely to obtain valuable information about criminals and their activities…
“A well-structured community policing system will greatly enhance the relationship between the police and the public thereby facilitating the process for the police to carry out their functions. In fact, justification for community policing arose because of the failure of traditional law enforcement measures to adequately solve crime and maintain law and order. The question however arises: How does the police service reconcile the contradictory roles of enforcing the law on one hand and befriending the public on the other? This is the precise reason why a Community Relations Department is required, whose role it is to inform the public of the nature of police work and the challenges that face the police.”
The Crown Counsel offered this advice to the law enforcement agency: “I am aware that at times you, the Police, may get negative reviews for your service, but I want to implore you to continue your work without fear or favour. Take criticism in stride, even the unwarranted ones, and use it to improve yourself and the service you provide.”