The man credited for raising the profile of the Regional Security System (RSS) in Barbados and across the Eastern Caribbean was given a fitting send-off after more than 13 years at the helm.
Grantley Watson served as executive director of the RSS from October 2003 to January 31 this year, and last Friday night, members of the island’s security forces, the diplomatic corps, as well as Government officials gathered at St Ann’s Fort to celebrate his achievements.
Watson took up the post after serving eight years as Commissioner of Police. Under his stewardship, the RSS saw the introduction of several programmes and policies that enabled the organization to increase its service to its seven member states.
He mobilized RSS troops to offer support to Grenada following the devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan in 2004/2005, he coordinated local security forces to quell the insurrection at Glendairy Prison in Barbados.
Watson was also a member of the Regional Task Force on Crime and Security, and was a member of the core technical group which was responsible for planning security when the Caribbean hosted Cricket World Cup in 2007.
More recently, it was under his leadership that RSS troops were deployed to Dominica to assist in recovery efforts in the wake of the passage of the deadly Tropical Storm Erika in 2015. And last year, a contingent from the organization assisted St Kitts in containing a spate of criminal activity there.
His successor, Captain Errington Shurland, hailed his fellow Combermerian’s success in establishing several crime-fighting measures, including the introduction of polygraphing and drug testing policies for the security forces of member countries, as well as the establishment of the Training Institute in 2011.
“During his tenure at the RSS, Grantley sought to analyze the criminogenic environments which undoubtedly affected the national security of member states. This analysis led to new departments at the RSS headquarters being established to carry out research on areas affecting national security, as well as analyzing the crime patterns and trends, in order to establish evidence-based programmes to assist member states in coping with the levels of criminality and ultimately the dynamics of national development,” Captain Shurland said.
In 2016, Watson oversaw the setup of the RSS Asset Recovery Unit, which aims to tackle serious organized crime under member countries’ Proceeds of Crime and Money Laundering legislation. It succeeds the Eastern Caribbean Financial Investigations Advisory Team.
Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite offered his gratitude to Watson “for making the RSS mainstream in terms of the crime and security agenda in Barbados and the OECS”.
“I think you will find that [since] Grantley began in 2003 that you can see the penetration, the contribution of the RSS to the improvement of the lives of the men and the women, the citizens of the OECS and Barbados is undoubtedly beyond reproach. And it has as much to do with the Government as it has to do with the leadership of Grantley Watson of the RSS,” Brathwaite told the gathering.
United States Ambassador Linda Taglialatela praised Watson as an “excellent partner” to the US, noting that she believes the RSS is “experiencing something of a golden age right now, and that’s attributed largely to Mr Watson’s good efforts”.
“It was Mr Watson who laid the groundwork for the current fruitful partnership between the United States and the Regional Security System. Because we strongly believe in the values and the sustainability of the Regional Security System’s mission, we have been funding the RSS’ training, thereby enabling the RSS and regional security force leaders to pass down their knowledge to the next generation of leaders,” she said.
Meanwhile, Canadian High Commissioner to Barbados Marie Legault, who recently took up her post, reminded guests of the strong diplomatic ties between her country and the Caribbean.
“As you know, Canada and the region have been together for forever it seems . . . . Barbados security and the region’s security is also America’s security, as well as Canada’s security, so it is important for us,” she said.
But for all the accolades heaped upon Watson, he said he never would have achieved such success without the unwavering support of his staff.
“I could not enjoy my time at the RSS unless they were committed to the service,” he said.
“These people here helped me along. I may have the ideas but they would have the answer to help me move things forward. This is how we work at the RSS . . . . I thought that I had to come here and let them know that I love them. I love and appreciate them.”
The RSS serves the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.