The largest class of new police recruits to ever graduate the service entry training course was welcomed into the folds of the paramilitary organization last Friday afternoon.
According to Superintendent Benzil Samuel, Commandant of the Police Training School, “the recruits here today [Friday May 29, 2020] were exposed to physical training, classroom instructions, simulations and practice sessions” all in an effort to prepare them for “this most arduous but noble path to law enforcement in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.” He reminded the graduates of course # 38 that “the road ahead will not be easy and would be blazed with momentous changes in law enforcement worldwide but I am happy that you will succeed if you stick to the task and to the training that you received.”
SoP Samuel acknowledged that the training endured by the recruits “pushed” them “mentally and physically” which challenged some “to the edge of their limits.” This rite of passage, he intoned, should be worn as a badge of honor by the young officers waiting to be sworn into active duty, as they stand ready to provide excellent police service guided by principles of integrity.
Three males opted out of the rigorous course before Friday’s ceremony. Therefore 14 females and 91 males were added to local constabulary instead of the 108 who entered the training school together in January 2020. This, SoP Samuel noted, meant that this year’s trainee’s was the largest batch of recruits to be prepped for law enforcement duty here.
Last year some 80 persons were trained. This year 13 of the 105 graduating recruits were products of an apprenticeship program that was sponsored by the Ministry of National Mobilization. These recruits were introduced to the organization as YES (Youth Empowerment Service) workers for Police Band prior to their Course #38 graduation.
“These men and women came from Chateaubelair in the North West to Union Island in the South and back to Fancy in the North East. Training was of a very high standard that the facilitators and instructors took seriously from beginning to the end.
“Course #38 received training in police duty subjects such as: History and Role of Police; Use and Care of the Station Diary; Power and Mode of Arrest; Care, Custody and Rights of Prisoners and Detainees; Domestic Disputes, Judges Rules, Statement Taking and Report Writing, Classification of Crimes and Offences; Court of Law and Procedure; Case File Preparation; Homicide and Other Criminal Investigations; Fire Education; Trafficking in Persons and Domestic Violence; Traffic Regulations; Cyber Crimes and Electronic Interview.
“Additionally, in providing for more rounded officers, the recruits received additional instructions in the following subject areas: Psychology, Self-Defense, Mental Health Education, Effective Communication and Sociology to name a few,” Commandant Samuel reported.
Theoretical and practical examinations were conducted on a regular basis to test the recruits’ retention of the subject matters under review. Several of the outstanding Course #38 performers were awarded at Friday’s ceremony.
Commissioner of Police Colin John exhorted the newest batch of constables towards a disciplined approach to the execution of their duties. “You would never get to the top of the line if all you do is stand at ease and mark time,” encapsulated the gist of CoP John’s address. He explained, “discipline is very broad it includes grasping knowledge. First of all you must be willing to learn, you must obey your seniors, you must pay attention to what they are imparting to you so that you’ll be able to grasp that knowledge. You must be punctual when coming to work. Your punctuality can literally determine if a person lives or die, so you must be punctual.
“You must also be at work when you should be at work. I’ve seen that some persons are deviate from the generally accepted norms of the organization by not turning up to work. Some of them are using the COVID situation to not report to work even though the complaints that they have is not related to COVID. And that is something that we as an organization would not stand for.
Respect for citizens, as “they are the ones who are paying you,” was another precept promoted by Commissioner John. “When you are out there on duty whether the Traffic Department, the Rapid Response Unit – any Department – and you have to speak to someone, you speak to them in a polite manner that doesn’t prevent you from performing your duties efficiently and effectively. You must also be respectful to yourself; with self-respect you would respect others,” he said.
Although the Commissioner professed to not fully subscribe to the maxim ‘image is everything,’ he urged the recruits to pay close attention to their deportment. “Image is significant in getting the message across. A police officer who is unkempt is unlikely to gain the respect of the public, so you must exhibit proper deportment at all times.
Commissioner John also encouraged the young men and women to continue aiming for the front of the line by availing themselves of the sundry opportunities for academic development that are available through the Royal SVG Police Force. “There are several avenues for police officers to develop themselves so you should pursue continued professional development,” he said while warning them against abandoning their health and exercise regimen to the detriment of the service quality on offer by the local constabulary.
“We see you on parade today and you’re looking very slim and trim. Next 5 years we would want to see a before and after photo and see how your size and your fitness has changed…. We encourage health and we encourage fitness but it’s also your responsibility to make sure you are fit and you’re healthy. We have seen quite a few officers who have come down with non-communicable diseases and that has cost the organization a lot of time in terms of them being on sick leave; so I’m really encouraging you today to maintain your fitness and to maintain your health.”
In his feature address, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and Minister of National Security, advised the freshmen class of constables to “remember that whatever work you are assigned to, that work is essential to the organization.”
PM Gonsalves also noted, “almost every single one of you would have achieved better academic grades – on an average, by and large – than those who entered the police force 20 or 30 years ago. So you may consider yourself with your 8 or 10 CXCs and many of you have that and your A’Levels and I believe one or two of you have University degrees; and the person who’s going to give you instructions is somebody who didn’t go pass Primary school.
“Don’t for one moment think that because academically you, in a formal sense upon your entry, would have had better grades than he or she who is giving you instructions; don’t underestimate the experience and knowledge that a policeman and policewoman gained overtime…. Though you have come out of the course, don’t for one moment think that after 6 months you really know what policing is all about. You’ve just scratched the surface.
“I’m telling you, it takes you years to understand the practical issues in criminal procedure, criminal law and criminal procedure, for example. And you have to listen to those who are experienced and who are there before you.”
The former defense attorney further urged the recruits to bring “creative energies” and “an enthusiasm to your work that you can add value to the police force.”