The government of St. Kitts & Nevis has no plans to hire non-nationals to head the country’s police force, Deputy Prime Minister, Sam Condor, said in Toronto last week.
As Minister of National Security, Condor is, understandably, concerned about the sharp increase in homicides in the country.
Kittitian Celvin Walwyn, a preacher who spent 25 years in the United States working as a law enforcement officer, was sworn in as the islands’ new police commissioner on September 1, replacing Nevisian Austin Williams whose son was fatally shot in St. Kitts in April.
Condor said he is satisfied with the job Walwyn is doing, and insisted that St. Kitts & Nevis doesn’t intend to hire nationals from other countries to manage the Royal St. Kitts & Nevis Police Force.
“It isn’t our desire to go after foreigners who don’t understand the culture of our islands,” said Condor.
Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Antigua & Barbuda and St. Lucia have hired Canadian and British law enforcement officers to head or hold senior positions in their police organizations.
The twin-island federation has registered a record 31 murders so far this year, 11 more than in 2010. There were four homicides in a 13-day span last summer in the 104-square mile island of St. Kitts with a population of about 50,000.
“Crime is a major concern on our islands where tourism is the biggest source of income and we are looking for any expertise and assistance we can get,” said Condor. “The areas we are looking at include community policing, social media and forensics, and crime scene management.”
In 1995, four people were killed. Between then and 2009, though, there were 168 murders.
While in the GTA, Condor – who was accompanied by St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank Ltd’s managing director, Sir Edmund Lawrence – watched the Canada-St. Kitts & Nevis World Cup soccer qualifier at BMO Field and met with nationals in the Diaspora.
“Nationals here have and continue to play a significant part in the development of our islands and it’s important that we acknowledge their contributions,” he said. “There are many with a wide range of technical and other skills that we can use as we grow.”
Condor also addressed the close ties between his country and Canada that dates back nearly 50 years ago when Kittitians and Nevisians came to Canada through the Caribbean Domestic Scheme program which brought small quotas of single women from the region to work here as domestics.
“Canada has also assisted us in a number of other areas, including the refurbishing of the Robert Bradshaw International Airport and through Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) scholarships that have benefitted many of our nationals, including our own Prime Minister (Denzil Douglas),” Condor said. “Many of our people have been able to return home and contribute to capacity-building. In terms of infrastructure and human development, Canada has been very good to us.”
Beginning on December 23, Air Canada will operate seasonal service to St. Kitts. The weekly flight will operate from Pearson International Airport on Fridays for 16 weeks during the winter season and it will be the island’s only non-stop commercial flight from Canada.
Condor welcomed the new service, saying that Canada has always been an extremely valuable source market for visitors, investors and nationals residing here.
“Securing this new service reaffirms my belief that there is a Santa Claus,” he added. “This is an important initiative because a lot of our people experience difficulties in returning home from Toronto and Canada. This service would greatly assist them.
“It’s our expectation that the winter service will become a year-round service.”
The first two flights out of Toronto on December 23 and 30 are sold out.