July 21, 2023 -CNW News -Amid rising tensions in St Vincent following the shocking murder of five people in Kingstown, the local police force has put off all vacation and unpaid leave for its officers until further notice.
Reports are that a circular issued by the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force said that the gazetted officers also decided to restructure the leave system for police officers and that divisional commanders were also ordered to inform ranks under their command.
Intelligence reports warn of potential reprisals: St Vincent officials address press
At a joint press conference, Police Commissioner Colin John, Acting Prime Minister Montgomery Daniel, and other Cabinet members addressed the alarming situation.
Commissioner John reported that the police force had received intelligence about potential reprisals, taking these threats – along with the recent shootings and fatalities – extremely seriously.
The Underlying Issues: Commissioner John links major crimes to small groups
The Commissioner revealed that police intelligence suggested a connection between some of the homicides occurring in St Vincent and the Grenadines, with fewer than 100 individuals responsible for the majority of major crimes.
According to John, these individuals represent a minuscule portion of the over 110,000 citizens, yet their actions have profound impacts. He traced the roots of these violent reprisals back to 2014, suggesting a botched drug transaction as the initial spark that has since escalated into a deadly feud.
St Vincent’s response to violence: Assurances of safety and proactive policing
Despite the ongoing violence, Commissioner John reassured citizens, insisting the country remains “generally safe”.
He affirmed that the police force had acted upon the intelligence received, and had even spoken to some of the victims prior to their tragic demise Wednesday night, which he credited to proactive policing.
Relaying details from the fateful night, John said police responded to reports of gunshots in the Harbour Club area, near the Grenadines Wharf.
Upon arrival, they discovered four individuals apparently deceased and a fifth critically injured, who was rushed to the hospital.
By the end of the tragic night, all five victims had been declared dead by a doctor.
John rebuffed criticisms over police response time to the incident, vowing increased police presence on the streets, which he cautioned may cause minor inconveniences to the public.
The bloodshed on Wednesday night has taken this year’s homicide count to an alarming 35, with seven of these murders happening within the past 36 hours.
“It is not a good statistic. And the police, we have gone back to the drawing board. We have looked at ways in which we can improve what we are doing,” said John.