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RMPS react to lack of results on raids in Davy Hill Community

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Media and villagers search for answers and information

During their first in a new series of monthly the Royal Montserrat Police Service (RMPS) management was asked for reaction to the Governor’s suggestion that there were no results or arrests made in the recently and much criticized Davy Hill raid operation on January 30, 2015.

Commissioner Steve Foster first addressed this issue and said as follows: We have carried out a number of operations in areas Carrs Bay, Davy Hill area and they have been successful. We have made arrests, we have seized drugs, we have taken persons drugs off the street and we will continue to do that.”

Directing his next comment to the actual question, he offered. “Not every operation may come out with an arrest because we are working on intelligence and it’s not all the time that information or intelligence would be 100% correct and or persons may be forewarned that the police are on their way and they may have changed operations, so they are gathering intelligence and we are gathering intelligence. So if their intelligence give them ideas, then they operate on their intelligence and we operate on ours.”

They were asked whether they have had any positive results as described in previous raids in Davy Hill and the Deputy Commissioner Thompson explained, “…the success of an operation doesn’t necessarily hinge on an arrest, because during an operation there are lots of observation that can be made, there are lots of intelligence, information and intelligence can also be gathered so that would lead to futuristic plans and also operations.”

He further explains. “we really should not be looking at that, that’s not how we look at it from our training… we would have done operations, it may not necessarily lead to an arrest of a person or persons or seizing of illegal drugs but by virtue of the fact that we would have gathered additional information and intelligence, in that light it is a success for us.”

The command was further quizzed about the operation being discussed as to its preparation and the lack of information provided by media upon learning about it; the fact that a subsequent press release referred to concerns dating back from 2010 and the statistical analysis they presented.

The release covered much of what was repeated at the press conference. It stated: “The mandate to tackle crime and arrest the fear of crime is that of the Royal Montserrat Police Service. Our statistics show that there has been an increase in marijuana and cocaine interdiction bound for Montserrat. Likewise law enforcement officials intercepted several packages of illicit drugs which were being exported from Montserrat. It is therefore incumbent that the Police Service intensifies its initiatives to arrest the prevalence of illicit drugs and other crimes.”

Similarly, the release said: “In executing these responsibilities, the organisation will employ the necessary strategies and tactics that will demonstrate professionalism in the way it carries out these functions.

We act on information and intelligence to guide our operations. This is done through extensive analysis to determine the accuracy before they are executed.”

The foregoing is exactly what the media and other concerned persons had been questioning. As photos show at the time of the operation, the press is at odds trying to get information, with children and others in the vicinity looking at officers seemingly on alert heavy protected and armored. Based on the information in the release and at the press conference, already the speculation was that the exercise was more one for training. That seems not farfetched on the knowledge that the RMPS is in search for competent officers from among its ranks to fill the vacancy of Superintendent and that person’s replacement. However, the Deputy and the Acting Superintendent Kirwan responded:

The Deputy led off, noting that we raised the point of the ‘humanitarian aspect’. “…intelligence is perishable, it has a shelf life and as a result you are likely to find that the Intel that you get this morning would change by this afternoon or change within minutes time. As a result that may very well impact one way or the other on your overall operation,” adding, “I just wanted to make that point that we do what we call risk assessment.”

“We have to take into consideration all the issues that we would have raised, the humanitarian side, the impact on communities, the impact on the individuals, the impact on who are actually goanna be on the ground and also and very critical too, the impact on the organization.”

This he said is, “because we have to ensure that when we go out and do something it has to be done professionally and that what we strive for.”

They top officers said that these operations, “they are very detailed, they are guided by what we call operational orders and as you will have realized it is always going to be evolving.”

In the end the RMPS managers said they will take the issues on board. “…the point that you have raised again is something that we would take on board and we will continue to look at, even though we are doing it and looking at ways and means of improvement.

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Posted in Local, News, Security3 Comments

RMPS face the media

RMPS reports on crime and challenges at first new monthly press conferences

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Ag. Superindent Kirwan, Deputy Commissioner Thompson and Commissioner Foster

Top Management of Royal Montserrat Police Service (RMPS) on Friday 20, 2015 held a press conference, the first for 2015 and for quite some time and since the departure of Canadian, Deputy Bradley Siddell.

Citing that this was to be the first of regular monthly press conferences, Commissioner Steve Forster, Deputy Commissioner Charles Thompson and Assistant Superintendent (acting) Bennett Karwin faced ZJB and The Montserrat Reporter media members and spoke on the challenges, weaknesses and strengths of policing in Montserrat as well as answered question from them during.

In his introduction Police Commissioner Steve Forster noted community policing as being top priority on the agenda for the men and woman in uniform in 2015 .”We attended held a number of village meetings; in the Davy Hill area, and also the Lookout community group.” he said, where they shared and discussed with the groups.

Having recently published the comparative crime statistics for 2014, Mr. Foster spoke to the consistent overall decline in crime during the past five years alluding to statistics from 2010 to 2014 presented by the Police Service in January 2015. The chief cop made special reference to 2012 as a challenging year for the police service.

But the police reported that while there was a general decline in crime and violence on the island there was still a 13% increase in major crimes. However, the commissioner continued to stress it’s not a “concern figure” since, “we continue to enjoy peace and safety on island.”

There was a 30% increase in drug related arrests, but again the Commissioner noted for the benefit of the public, “this is not an indication that there is more drugs on the streets of Montserrat.”

Securing of the coastal borderlines and the exclusion zone as usual came up for discussion. This, continues to be a challenge for the police according to the Commissioner, but he said that during the 2015 budgetary talks with DIFID there was urgent emphasis on the need for security equipment both in sea and on land, as he cited the inadequacy of the current coast guard vessel which simply can’t meet the work load placed on it. He praised Governor Adrian Davis for adding to the emphasis of the urgent needs for these equipment during the budgetary talks.

RMPS face the media

RMPS face the media

The Governor during his February press conference touted that it is not his sole responsibility to obtain financial support for the police equipment and the conduct of their affairs. He said he worked cooperatively with the Government. “… that exception is a rather large exception, like everything else. I mean it’s not my sole responsibility – it is according to the Constitution but it’s something that we try and workout cooperatively in terms of development which is the Government’s main priority.”

He saw the circumstances as developmental. He said, “we all accept that development depends on a low level of crime and keeping that kind of reputation that Montserrat has. Iit’s a shared objective it does need a budget.” He added that one of the particular preoccupations, “which we’re going to have to discuss is the longstanding issue of a proper replacement for Shamrock which we need to do.”

At the close of his introduction, almost out of the blue, and as an introduction to the recent much talked of police operation at Davy Hill, Foster said: “I would like to highlight here that there are three arms of Government, there is the executive, the judiciary and the administrative and we all have our rolls and functions and will leave it there.”

The media led off the statement and the Commissioner seemed hard pressed to respond under which of these three arms he was controlled. At first he responded that he served independently but finally admitted he reported to the Governor who had responsibility for security and the justice system.

The Davy Hill operation then held centre stage continuing into the press conference, as the officers noted that of the two page press release issued by the police, only two short paragraphs actually dealt with it. (See report in this issue on page

The police management team also confirmed that contrary to responses that the police had little to do with the new mode of vehicular licensing procedure the Police Service was involved in the process from since its inception. They apologised for information previously provided by officers.

At the close the management team emphasised that despite the many challenges the law men says it’s their goal to maintain the peace and safety enjoyed on Montserrat and that they will continue to carry out operations to maintain this.

Posted in Local, News, Security2 Comments

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Police raid section of Davy Hill Community

 

Police constrain pedestrian

Police constrain pedestrian

DSC_2731Just three (3) days after the Royal Montserrat Police Service (RMPS) reported crime reduction statistics to a group plus of regulars at the Sujue Davis, wife of His Excellency the Governor Coffee Morning gathering, they conducted an operation in the north Davy Hill community.

The operation sparked some controversy after the media reported the lack of or scant information surrounding the operation.

Minister of Agriculture, Housing, Trade, Lands, and Environment, the Hon. Claude Hogan publicly criticized the operation on Friday, January 30, 2015.

In a radio interview with ZJB’s Basil Chambers the following morning Minister Hogan said, “What’s needed in areas like Davy Hill is more police presence.”

He called on the law enforcement officers to have a more modernised approach in conducting their duties. “Operations like these are only warranted in a life and death situation,” he said.

Directing the following comments to the Davy Hill community, Hogan said, “I have spoken to the authorities for myself after this thing yesterday and I want to ensure the people of Davy Hill that what happened should not have happened the way it did, notwithstanding that the police have the right to undertake these operations”

The raid operation was conducted in the area between the entrance to the incomplete Davy Hill Community Center and the office of the Montserrat Reporter; the street was completely blocked by the Police with no foot or motor vehicular traffic allowed through.

Both ZJB and TMR reporters sought to speak to the commanding officer for the operation, Inspector Albert Williams, but was directed to the Director of Operation Superintendent Bennett Kirwan at Headquarters in Brades.

There were no comments from Kirwan who said he can’t make a statement on the matter.

Meanwhile other members of the community are outraged over the manner in which the operation was conducted by the law men. During the operation some were shouting, “gross miscarriage of power”, while others considered it to be an abuse of their human rights.

Posted in Local, News, Security6 Comments

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