BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – POLICE COMMISSIONER Celvin ‘CG’ Walwyn said that during this month he would be implementing a change within the Public Relations Office of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force.
“The Public Information Officer (PIO) is changing. We are replacing him with Inspector David, who has been a PIO before. We are also going to make sure Inspector David has some PIO training, making him more viable with the media.”
When contacted by SKNVibes for a comment on this move, the current PIO, Sergeant Stephen Hector, indicated that opportunities for new challenges in law enforcement have arisen and he is willing and prepared to serve in any capacity of the force.
Commissioner Walwyn was at the time responding to questions from the media, including what was the impetus to bring an expert to facilitate conversations between the police and the media on improved relationships between the two institutions.
“One of the first initiatives that I had when I came here was to have better relations with the media and the police. I stood awake from this country before I was even the Commissioner and I would see stories or complaints from the media regarding the police. And one of the things that I choose to do was to have that first meeting when I came here,” the Commissioner said.
The Top Cop noted that in recent months the relationship between the police and media has deteriorated and he believes the time has come to implement changes.
“Over the last couple of months, things seem to be deteriorating or have deteriorated. I feel a lot of complaints from the media and I thought it was time for a change. What we have done, with respect to the media, we have made some changes that will be put into effect within this month.”
Commissioner Walwyn declared that the Police High Command have held meetings with various communities and that he has seen some significant changes in the relationship between the police and the public.
“In terms of the community, the Police High Command, we have been going to the churches at least twice a month. We have been holding community meetings with the citizens, trying to get them to understand the role of the police and the community and also their role as residents and citizens of this community with regard to the police.
“We have seen a drastic change in the way people are coming towards the police these days, but we still have bumps and bruises here and there. But we have made significant changes to improve our relationships and this course was one of the first steps to put on that road.”
He emphatically stated that significant changes were also observed in the behaviour of whom he called bad guys.
“The bad guys, they have stopped me and told me they like the way it is going. And what we saw recently, in the act of investigation so we can’t speak to them, they are not what people say they are. So, even the bad guys are asking us to do the patrols.”
In response to why is it so important to the community for a good working relationship between the law enforcement body and the media, Commissioner Walwyn said, “It is very important because people listen; they don’t always hear the police but they will hear the media. And if the media do not have the right story then people will have the wrong ideas.
“Right now we are in the middle of an investigation for a missing person and I have been getting text and emails…a lot of wrong information based on what people have been hearing.
“We want to make sure that whenever the media have information it is the proper information. As you know, I don’t mind speaking to anybody but I want to make sure I have the proper information before I speak. And sometimes when the media call I don’t have the information yet, and some people want to press you and when you don’t have it then they write whatever. And that’s when I have the problem.”
He stressed that it is very important for the media and the community to work together and that all stakeholders present a positive image from here on, because whatever is written affects the country and its economy.
Yesterday (May 2) had seen the closing of a three-day workshop hosted by the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force with assistance from the US Embassy to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.
The workshop was aimed at improving the relationship between police and the media, and was facilitated by Stephen Davis, President of Davis Investigative Group LLC, who is a former Captain and Public Information Officer (PIO) in the New York Police Department.