Financing Agreement Signing Between the Island Territory of St. Maarten and the funding agency USONA

The following is the Statement by Governor Franklyn Richards for the Financing Agreement Signing between the Island Territory of St. Maarten and the funding agency USONA.

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Statement by Governor Franklyn Richards

Chief of Police section St. Maarten Police Force

Financing Agreement Signing

Between the Island Territory of St. Maarten and the funding agency USONA

Good afternoon,

To members of the Executive and Island Councils, Members of the Prosecutors Office, the Police Force, other disciplined services, the media, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

First of all, I would like to congratulate our law enforcement officials who apprehended several alleged armed robbers fleeing a residential area after committing an armed robbery on Wednesday morning around 9.00am. The action of the victims by alerting the Police right away resulted in four individuals being arrested quickly and incarcerated.

It is an honour for me to be standing here this afternoon to sign off on initiatives that will improve the crime fighting capabilities of the Police Force of St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius.

The financing agreement to be signed comprises of a training program for the men and women of the Police Force.

The 24-month project cycle entails an investment of over Naf.1.4 million. The USONA development aid funds have been made available due to agreements between Holland and the Netherlands Antilles.

The Island Territory of St. Maarten submitted this project proposal on November 30, 2009 to USONA. Eight detectives and six Police civil servants will be trained in various crime fighting techniques and strategies. In order for a Police Force to function at an acceptable level, its members need to receive training on a regular basis. This will have a positive impact on the fight against crime.

The Royal Dutch Marechaussee has also made a significant contribution to the resources of the Police Force of St. Maarten. The main objective is to increase visibility and at the same time strengthen the motorized fleet with addition of vehicles that would facilitate the work of the force in carrying out their daily tasks.

This contribution comprises of eight busses, 12 motor cycles, five vehicles and an armoured plated vehicle for the tactical team also known as the A-Team. Also included are 50 pieces of riot gear.

The tools are being provided to our Police Force so they can get criminals off our streets and out of our neighbourhoods.

Law enforcement institutions remain at the vanguard of efforts to combat the entire range of challenges confronting our communities and quality of life.

Criminal activity in recent weeks has made our communities uneasy, and I can assure you that every effort is being made to apprehend the criminals responsible. These efforts cannot be successful without having the input of the community.

Our island nation can continue to be thankful that we still live on one of the safest islands in the Caribbean; however we cannot become complacent, but must continue as a community and a nation to assist our law enforcement bodies to fight crime because they cannot do it alone.

We are sending once again a strong message to criminals that crime, drugs and violence will not be allowed to threaten our safety and well-being.

Various stakeholders are working together to bring down crime. As a community we have to work together with all concerned minds, as the results that we are looking for are safer streets, safer homes, safer neighbourhoods, safer communities, a safer St. Maarten. Working together builds a better way of life, builds on the spirit of the community, brotherhood and partnership.

Our schools have had serious challenges within the past weeks and months. The incidents are very worrisome and should be of great concern to everybody. While plans are put in place to prevent and fight crimes, measures must be taken to point youngsters, who might be attracted to the wrong path, to other areas that enrich lives.

Parents have a moral responsibility of being involved in their children’s lives. Ways and means to encourage our youngsters to participate in organizations, and to seek ways of getting them involved, would be a plus as they would not be left idle.

The actions being taken do speak louder than words as demonstrated today. Actions have been taken in the past by law enforcement and the community can continue to expect that these actions will continue in the future. There is still a lot to be done, but we are on the right path of getting these things put into place and acquiring the necessary training and resources to do the job which has been lacking for years.

We need community police, who walk the sidewalks and establish relationships with shop keepers and parents; we need to give our children safe, supervised places to learn and play when their parents are still at work.

We need to have additional resources be made available in order for law enforcement to be able to provide the type of service expected by the community.

I would like to conclude by re-emphasizing, that the fight against crime and violence is a partnership between law enforcement and the community.

A single crime in St. Maarten is one too many. Even a single family threatened by violence is unacceptable. We are committed to giving law enforcement the tools to defeat criminals and to make our communities as safe as they possibly can be.

Let us all work together, parents, youths, teachers, students, business community and every law abiding citizen, to build a stronger and safer future our families deserve.

Thank You