Prime Minister Marlin congratulates VKS on 18th anniversary

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Prime Minister Hon. William Marlin recently spoke at the 18th anniversary of the Sint Maarten Voluntary Corps Christmas Mascarade Dinner.

“This is a festive occasion and hence I won’t like to cause you any indigestion. So, I’ll try to be brief.  Eighteen has become a magical number for us as a society. In my days, it used to be 21.  That was the age one reached adulthood.

“Today, it is 18. Therefore, we can consider this celebration as a rite of passage. The VKS has come of age today. Congratulations.

“Looking back at the last 18 years of your existence, I am sure you will find a lot to celebrate and quite a few lows in your development as a voluntary, some may even say, ancillary Police Corps. But for me, the emphasis is on voluntary.

“When you volunteer to assist in maintaining law and order, you not only give of your time in the service of your fellow men and women, but you also lay your lives on the line for them.

“For, make no mistake about it, whenever you are called to assist the Police Force, you are being asked to make the same sacrifices expected of them.

“And we have seen this year that this could mean making the ultimate sacrifice as the tragic death of Officer Benji in the line of duty clearly demonstrates.

“The theme you have chosen for this gala event, “Black and Gold” would therefore seem appropriate in light of the tragedy and of the heart of gold we all know Officer Benji had.

“Maturity is however not measured only in years. There are no doubt some 18 year olds who are more mature than some 80 year olds.

“I would want to place the VKS in the first category, that is, of a mature 18 year old.  The fact is, from your very inception, you have been blessed with exemplary and visionary leaders.

“The VKS was the brainchild of the late Chief of Police, Mr. Walter Kramers and he brought his colleague on board Major Jean Illidge, who went on to nurture the VKS for many years towards adult hood.

“We must also acknowledge VKS leaders like Albert Kemper, who is now a 2nd Lieutenant.  You have been also blessed with leaders who inspire, even when, as in the case of Mr. Ostiana who recently relocated to Curaçao, have been facing huge personal challenges.

“Leaders like your current commandant, Antonio Rogers, whose many years of great service in the Police Force remains a reservoir of knowledge and integrity from which the younger officers can drink from.

“I’d like to leave you with two thoughts. One is, given the fact that the Police Force is grossly understaffed (the acting minister of justice recently revealed that the Police Force is only at 60% of its required capacity) why can’t we then find a way to make it possible for a simple, speedy, smooth and sustainable transition of members of the VKS to regular Police officers?

“This becomes more urgent in view of the current surge in crimes on the island. I don’t want to believe that this is a matter of finances alone, although I am the first to recognize the need to tighten our belts.

“However, if we have to choose between having to remain under siege by criminal elements or to find creative ways to boost our capacity to fight crime, I am sure the choice would be an obvious one.

“The other idea I wanted to float here this evening is how we as a society treat our law enforcement officers and the other uniformed agents.

“You hear often how in some countries, once it is known that you are an officer of the law, that is a Police officer, a VKS, a firefighter, or a military officer, the first thing you hear is: thank you for your service.

“This is in recognition of the uncommon duty of keeping society safe. These officers often receive special treatment in public places such as banks, hospitals, airports, even restaurants where they may have to cue for service or to be served.

“Why, I ask myself, can’t we do the same for our officers here? I am sure with the proper public awareness campaign, we can make the St. Maarten society show similar appreciation to you and other law enforcement officers.

“Let me therefore start in my own small way, but as a reflection of the regard this government has for you, to say a big thank you to all the members of the VKS past and present for your selfless and loyal service to our island in the last 18 years.

“Thank you for your volunteer spirit. Thank you for putting service to community above self. Congratulations once more on your 18th anniversary. Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones. God bless the VKS. God bless St. Maarten. I thank you,” Prime Minister Hon. William Marlin said in his speech to celebrate the 18thanniversary of the VKS.

Source: 721 news Prime Minister Marlin congratulates VKS on 18th anniversary