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(SNO) – Six police officers from Saint Lucia are part of a Regional Security System (RSS) force currently in St. Kitts and Nevis to help crack down on rising crime in that country, Acting Commissioner of Police Milton Desir has reported.
He said the Saint Lucia officers are members of the Special Services Unit (SSU) of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force, some of whom were reportedly called back from vacation leave.
The officers, who left Saint Lucia on Wednesday, Oct. 10, will be with the RSS for about three weeks, initially, Desir said.
To date, at least 20 people have been killed on that neighbouring island which has a population of about 55,000 people. One of those notable homicides was the shooting death of the son of St Kitts and Nevis minister of public infrastructure, posts, urban development and transport, Ian ‘Patches’ Liburd.
Police said Mickail ‘Mitch’ Liburd was ambushed by at least three armed and masked men shortly after 10 p.m on August 28, as he got out of his car. He was reportedly shot several times.
In an Oct. 13 national address, St. Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr. Timothy Harris announced that the RSS forces began arriving into the Federation on Oct. 10, and will continue to arrive there in “sufficient numbers”, to assist the country’s ongoing crime-fighting efforts.
He said RSS members and local national security personnel have already been deployed throughout the country and it is believed that their presence will help local law enforcement “expand the extent of their coverage of the country”.
Dr. Harris further stated that by engaging the RSS, the High Command of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force and the entire law enforcement body will benefit from the expertise and manpower of the regional organization, of which St. Kitts and Nevis is a contributing member.
“St. Kitts and Nevis is a member of the RSS and financially contributes to support the functioning of this important regional security mechanism. That membership and financial contribution oblige the RSS to assist the Federation when necessary. It is yet another available security asset and my Government will not hesitate to utilize all assets at our disposal to further the peace and security of our country,” Dr. Harris said.
The St. Kitts prime minister noted that the “the RSS will remain in St. Kitts and Nevis for as long as necessary until the security forces advise that their presence is no longer required”.
This is not the first time that country has deployed the RSS onto its streets to fight an upsurge in major crimes.
According to WINN FM, a 23-member RSS team was in the Federation in 2016.
The RSS website says the organisation was created out of a need for a collective response to security threats, which were impacting on the stability of the region in the early 1970,s and 1980’s.
“In October 1982, four members of the Organisation of the Eastern Caribbean States, namely, Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Barbados to provide for “mutual assistance on request”. St. Kitts and Nevis joined after gaining independence in September 1983 and Grenada in January 1985. The MOU was updated in 1992 and the RSS acquired juridical status in March 1996 by way of the Treaty which was signed in St. Georges, Grenada.
“The memorandum made provisions for a fast moving non-bureaucratic organization which could react to the security needs of Member States if requested. This was first demonstrated in October 1983 when, together with the military forces of the United States of America and Jamaica, the RSS deployed troops to Grenada to restore democracy after a period of political upheaval,” the website states, adding that the RSS is a “hybrid organisation, in that its security forces comprise both military and police personnel who remain under the command of their respective Heads”.