NEWLY appointed Corporal, Zachary Hippolyte of the Press Office of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force has called on Saint Lucians to empower themselves against crime by reading the laws that govern them and be more cognizant of their surroundings.
Hippolyte who has been tasked with putting information on citizen protection in the public domain said that there is a lot of Information on what Saint Lucians can do to protect themselves against criminal acts.
His assignment is all part of the 2015/2016 Crime Prevention Programme of the Police Force. According to Hippolyte the part of the programme about public education in respect of crime prevention has been gathering momentum, despite the lack of manpower in the press office to push it further.
“The programme we are tasked with is coming along fine. We have initiated a programme called ‘Weekend Crime Prevention Tips’ that is now available on all media platforms,” Hippolyte said.
Hippolyte is presently the only police officer attached to the press office and while he would like to see more done in terms of presenting different ways in which Saint Lucians can learn about crime prevention and detection so as to be able to protect themselves and assist the police, he is limited in his scope.
“We are doing the best we can here. However, it would assist us all, meaning the police and the citizenry if the public read the laws that govern us in this country. It is good to know your rights as a citizen. It is only by reading that we are able to empower ourselves,” he said.
“Read the crime prevention tips we put out each week. Crime prevention means being aware of your environment and remaining alert to situations that could make you vulnerable to crime. We cannot list specific measures that will protect you from every threatening situation, which may arise. Instead, we hope to teach you how to think ‘Crime Prevention’ in day-to-day living, Hippolyte added.
He said that the crime strategy which has been developed mandates police stations to help grow and advance neighbourhood watch programmes.
The onus is now on the commanding officers at the police stations to hold frequent town hall meetings with members of the public to hear what they have to say, according to acting Police Commission Errol .
The focus on public education on crime prevention comes at a time when police are trying hard to keep crime levels down, especially violence against police officers.
Just two weeks ago, on the last day of Carnival 2015, a young police officer was accosted by a gang of youth.
A few days ago police officers patrolling certain parts of Chaussee Road had missiles hurled at them and two Sundays ago unknown individuals discharged a firearm at the Richfond Police Station (July 26) about 4:30 a.m. No injuries have been reported from that incident.
Police have since warned that they will fight back because they have a right to defend themselves and the right to match force with force.
Alexander said that following a meeting with the police high command members of the police force are on high alert with regards to defending themselves, adding that the police force will take whatever measures it deems necessary to protect its officers.
Alexander said that the police are providing a service to the people of the country and should be allowed to do so.
Hippolyte took the police/public relations one step further by saying that police and the public must at all times maintain a good relationship.
Reading from the Standing Orders of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force Hippolyte said that at all times a relationship must be maintained with the public that gives reality to the historical condition that the police are the public and the public the police.
“The police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interest of community welfare and existence,” Hippolyte said.
Hippolyte, in keeping with the task given to his office, this week released crime prevention tips on health and safety for civilians at crime scenes.
He called on Saint Lucians to stay away from blood or bloody scenes, the reason being that blood and other body fluids contain potentially infectious disease-causing microorganisms, which cannot be seen with the naked eye and which can infect an unknowing bystander. These infections include Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C (both affect liver) and HIV.
Another tip is to keep outside of the cordon that is set up by the Police because the cordon protects the scene from the public and protects the public from the hazards of the scene. It minimizes contamination at the scene and exposure to disease-causing organisms.
Hippolyte called on individuals not to approach a scene involving gun-fire since the perpetrator(s) may be lurking around and civilians may end up being victims because the gunfire has not yet ceased or the perpetrator may target any civilian who approaches the scene.
Regarding burglary scenes he wants persons to leave the scene undisturbed, and call the Police immediately because tampering with or touching anything at the scene interferes with the scene and makes it more difficult to investigate because of contamination. Also the civilian automatically becomes a suspect. Civilians should also be wary of sharp objects and surfaces which can cause bodily harm. Even medically-trained civilians may try to preserve life, as is mandatory after calling 911, but they must also remain at the scene to speak with investigators about their involvement.