EDITORIAL: To protect and serve

We join with all Antiguans and Barbudans in saluting the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda on their 50th Police Week of Activities. Our men and women in uniform have acquitted themselves well and served our fair nation with courtesy, professionalism and respect. Yes, we can hear the ‘guffaws’ and the ‘chupzes,’ because there are some who have had unfortunate and unpleasant experiences with those in uniform. But we will go out on a limb and suggest that those regrettable instances are in the minority. For the most part, our men and women of law enforcement, into whose hands has been placed much power and authority, have exercised great restraint and shown much respect, and we, the citizenry in return, accord them their due respect and applaud them for their judicious use of that power.

Of course, effective policing requires a solid partnership with the citizenry, and again, we suggest that there appears to be a good working relationship between the authorities and the men and women in the street here in Antigua and Barbuda. Community policing is where it’s at – useful in diffusing tension between law enforcement and John Q. Public, as well as a source of valuable information in the solving of crimes, especially those that wreak such havoc on the fabric of our communities – prostitution, drug-dealing, and the unregulated sale of pharmaceuticals and other items that are either defective or stolen.

In that regard, we say kudos to the police for putting on another spectacular  (so far) Police Week. It is an opportunity for the men and women in uniform – our first responders, to showcase their proficiency in a healthy and competitive environment, while also putting a human and less-forbidding face on the men and women behind the badge. Who can deny the pride with which we watched our officers competitively go through their paces while vying for the Malcolm Nicholas Cup? It is an award for the Fire House that scores highest in accuracy, speed, stamina, and of course, teamwork. The All Saints Fire House was this year’s winner. Who can deny the thrill with which we listened to the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda Band as they serenaded us with the classical staples earlier this week. It was a special treat listening to Victor ‘Babu’ Samuel’s virtuoso performance on pan. It was also great hearing the other officers on the traditional classical instruments.  The music was another step in bridging the divide between law enforcement and civilians, and it had that special quality referred to by William Congreve, the British poet, “To soften rocks and bend a knotted oak.”

And the charm offensive did not begin or end there. Nay, the Open Day was a smashing success, as was the calypso competition at the Barrymore Hotel. Corporal Donette Samuel was the second runner-up with her beautifully rendered offering, Sergeant Clint Spencer was the first runner-up with WHAT’S NEXT, and Jemoye Charles snagged the crown with a masterful performance of MY GHOSTLY ENCOUNTER. Not to take anything away from our carnival calypsonians, but these officers of the law are full-fledged calypsonians in their own right, and Queen Thalia, King Zacari, Black Madhi et al ought to be looking over their shoulders in 2019.

Meanwhile, we salute the fifty-plus officers who were honored for their selflessness, sacrifice and outstanding work at Government House this past Wednesday. They are a credit to the badge, and we thank them ever so much! These are the men and women who put their lives on the line every day and go above and beyond and give of their all to ensure that we can go about the business of our lives in peace and safety. These are the men and women who make our encounters with the law pleasant, as opposed to the dreadful nightmare that it sometimes is reputed to be. Of course, any encounter with the classy, professional and beautiful Police Queen contestants will be a pleasant affair. We are referring to the Queen contestants in the Police Queen 2018 pageant. Mena Nathaniel was the second runner-up, Annika Bowen was first runner-up and Kalique Samuel snagged the crown. Well done, officers!

Police Week 2018 continues today with the Henry Greaux Sports Day at the Police Recreation Grounds and a dinner later in the evening. On Saturday, there will be a shooting competition at Crabbes and a variety concert that same night. The buzz on the street is that the play, CARELESS MOOMA, will be quite an entertaining and inspiring spectacle. No one should miss it! The curtains come down on Police Week 2018 with a grand family picnic at Ffryes Bay on Sunday.

Of course, we are taking the time to highlight the Police Week itinerary in an effort to show the lighter side of law enforcement; the soft, vulnerable, compassionate and yes, proud, earnest, human faces behind the epaulets and the stripes. The unbridled joy and zest with which the officers threw themselves into the activities is testament enough that they are not all uptight, power-drunk folk bearing grudges and a chip on their shoulders.  The Police Week activities will also provide an opportunity for the officers to see and interact with each other outside the confines of the work environment. It will also lend itself to department camaraderie and esprit de corps. Needless to say, we believe that the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda will emerge from Police Week 2018 as a stronger, more confident and decidedly better law enforcement body!

To Acting Commissioner Atlee Rodney and all our policemen and women, we say, “Congratulations!” We say, “Thanks!” We say that we are committed to working hand in glove with the law to making our fair Antigua and Barbuda even fairer and brighter!

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