Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Donna Babb-Agard is warning of a new type of criminal who is prepared to take extraordinary risks, which will impact on the way police perform their functions.
“They [criminals] are willing to be shot to prove to policemen that they are a force to be reckoned with. Criminals today are prepared to protect their drugs and die for it and also to protect their reputations. As a result the respect that used to be paid to police officers, even by some of those same criminals, is now a thing of the past,” Babb-Agard told the 141st graduation ceremony of the Regional Police Training Centre (RPTC) in Seawell, Christ Church.
“Your reputation will always be the subject of challenge as a result of the organization of which you are a part,” she emphasized in delivering the feature address.
Eleven officers from the Royal Anguilla Police Force graduated from the programme, and the DPP reminded them that in the age of social media the eyes of the world were watching their every move.
“Gone are the days where police arrested suspects under covert conditions or in communities where only the eyes of those on the scene were on them. Nowadays, the majority of arrests are done in full view of everyone who has access to digital devices and upload videos and photographs on various social media platforms,” she said.
“You therefore must be cognizant of the fact that you are under the watchful eye of the public at all times,” Babb-Agard added.
Nevertheless, the Queen’s Counsel urged the officers to conduct themselves with integrity throughout their careers, even when they are “overworked or unpaid, when nobody appreciates the functions and roles of a police officer in your country”.
“I would encourage you to remember this day when your goals are clear, when you know what the esteemed organization for which you studied and trained hard represents,” she stressed.
The eleven recruits began training on August 8, 2017, a month before their country was devastated by category five Hurricane Irma.
Deputy Commandant Rodney Archer, who guided the recruits throughout their six months of training, lauded them for their response in the midst of adversity, and expressed his gratitude to those who assisted with the relief efforts.
He also urged the new officers not to abuse their power or engage in police corruption.
“You have been vested with a significant amount of authority. You should never allow that authority to corrupt your minds and by extension, your attitude to those you serve,” said the deputy commandant.
“You are in the gullible phase of your policing careers and may be easily swayed to follow the path of unprofessional and corrupt practices. You are intelligent young persons; use that intelligence wisely to benefit your organization,” he added.
Commissioner of Police for the Royal Anguilla Police Force Paul Morrison was also present, providing words of encouragement for the graduating cohort. Morrison called for the graduates to be grounded in their beliefs but flexible in techniques when facing the evolving nature of crime.
“We have to be flexible, light on our feet. We have to adapt as quickly as they adapt so that we can maintain our grip on crime and disorder and keep the harm that the public faces low,” Morrison stated.