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By Carlena Knight

A virtual version of the annual Police Week has caused the cancellation of two marquee events – the Malcolm Nicholas Cup and the presentation put on by the Police Drama Group.

The Malcolm Nicholas event, which was renamed in 2014 in honour of former fire chief Malcolm Nicholas, has become a staple in the lawmen’s week of activities.

 Over the years, hundreds of civilians would line High Street to cheer on officers from fire stations across Antigua and Barbuda as they competed in water and hose drills for the coveted title.

The drama presentation, arguably the most popular event of the week, would have taken place this Saturday at the Antigua Recreation Grounds.

Inspector Frankie Thomas told Observer that, due to Covid-19, most of the events had to be cancelled for this year to include the sports day, calypso competition and the ‘send off’ or retirement ceremony at the Sir Wright F George Police Academy in Langfords.

“Well, because of Covid, what we are doing right now is a virtual event, mostly media interviews and rebroadcasts of past year’s events,” Inspector Thomas said. “Right now, we are not even sure how things will go next year either, if Covid is still about.”

Acting Inspector Evette Henry also shared a similar stance where the firemen’s competition is concerned.

“We are not having any event for the Malcolm Nicholas Cup,” she said on state media earlier this week. “You know about this Covid thing and we are trying to limit all of the movement between people, so no Malcolm Nicholas Cup this year, but we hope to be back bigger and better next year once we can get this Covid thing under control.”

According to another acting inspector, Bernadin Valerie, the cancellation will present an opportunity for the organisers to implement more safety measures for next year.

“There are a lot of persons on High Street … and those drills are dangerous and so we are looking into the safety aspect of things [like] more barricades. We are looking to see if we can improvise helmets and gloves with the drills. We are going to start to practice those kinds of safety measures just in [case],” he said.

The officer said the force is mulling some other events which will showcase the skills of firefighters that could be added to the competition.

“We also want to bring in some other drills. We want to see the skills of firefighters in other ways, not just running a hose and doing connections with hoses. We want to bring in more excitement on High Street. We want to bring in some vehicle extrication, high angle rescue — some sort of rescuing on High Street to showcase the skills of the firefighters.”

The competition, which was introduced in the early 1970s, was won by Johnson’s Point Fire Station last year.

The Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda is celebrating its 52nd anniversary of Police Week, from September 6 to 12, under the theme “Committed to Quality Service in a Global Pandemic”.

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