Know your Community Police Officer
~ Philipsburg CPO Steven Carty ~
By Andrew ****
PHILIPSBURG–The term Community Police Officer (CPO) has been used by police management for some time now, but do you know every CPO on the Police Force? And do you know which one represents your district? These are the questions we hope to answer during this series of articles as we get to know each officer in the CPO programme.
Inspector Steven Carty is the CPO of district Philipsburg, which includes the areas of Pointe Blanche, Over the Bank, Hope Estate, Guana Bay and Pond Island. He was asked what he expects from his neighbourhood and what his neighbourhood expects from him.
“We are a pivotally-located district and the safety factor weighs a little differently than the other districts because of the continuous influx of short-term visitors. The safety and well-being of my district are a priority. I would want my community to know that I am here to serve them and while I do that, that they remember that I am not their servant. I wear a uniform, not a cape,” he said.
“I treat everyone with courtesy and respect and I expect the same. I am a man of my word and I want my district to know that it can hold me accountable. With the support of my associates, we are educating business owners, but if there are specific areas that they want or need information on, they should bring those to my attention.
“My efficiency within the district is based on being able to cater to the actual and not only the perceived needs. One path to reaching our goals as a district will be realised by forming interactive partnerships and connections within the community. It will allow the CPO to solve public safety problems and develop problem-solving techniques to address the cause of crime and social disorder and the fear of crime.
“It’s already started, but I would encourage businesses to be mindful of each other. A safe district means that everyone is safe, not just a few. A strong and healthy district requires a strong collaborative effort from all parties.”
Carty also gave his definition of a CPO: a Community Police Officer is a critical factorthat links the Police Force and community at large.
“I am able toprovide a visible and reassuring presence on the streets,” he said. “Our tagline is ‘to protectand serve’ and to do this effectively means that I must have a strong sense of duty, integrity, compassion and courage. I am a line of defence to make sure that citizens are handled withrespect.
“Serving as aCPO, I have the opportunity to work with young officers and I am affordedthe opportunity to invest in their careers byhelping them grow professionally. The most valuable investment that can be made is in our next generation. They are the truest definition of real estate.
“Schools are communities within the community and serving and protecting there may mean protecting one student from another, protecting teachers from students or protecting students from teachers. I am able to serve our youngest citizens and invest time in them. I don’t take lightly all that children can teach us if we open ourselves to learn from them.
“They inspire me to put my best foot forward. I am looking into the option of doing more with the students in my district in the near future. Being a Community Police Officer means being and living the example to the community.”
Carty recalled his path to becoming a CPO as though it was just yesterday: “This year will mark my 20th year as a police officer, but my career path in law enforcement actually began years earlier. Twenty-four years ago I served as a prison guard at the Pointe Blanche correctional institution.
“After graduating from the academy in Curaçao, I worked as a detective in the Robbery Unit, after which I transferred to the Juvenile and Vice Department. A selection process was carried out and along with several other colleagues, I was chosen to take up this challenging role. This was followed by several trainings, whichwere conducted by instructors of the Miami Dade University Criminology Department, which took place in St. Maarten, and finally a job training examination that took place in Miami.”
“As the most visible Government agency on duty 24 hours a day, the police must be willing to serve as a catalyst to mobilise other agencies and services. In the starting phases, the challenge, as with anything new, is to get everyone organised and ‘on the same page.’ As CPO, I serve as a liaison between my district and my office.
“Time is a significant challenge, as I regretfully cannot answer all calls. While it is always challenging to be everyone’s first contact, I do follow up afterwards. Because the community was enthusiastic about the changes that the CPO programme was designed to bring, it really helped to facilitate implementing the programme effectively on the street,” said Carty about the challenges he faces on a daily basis as a CPO.
Crime and getting the Philipsburg community involved with preventing it is another challenge for the experienced officer. “In every neighbourhood there is an ever-present threat that a crime may be committed. Philipsburg has the luxury of having the bike patrol. The bike patrol covers the entire capital, focusing on the hot spots. Responding to thefts and break-ins on bikes allows officers to move quickly through large crowds. A primary counter measure to crime is being vigilant.
“Prevention takes on different approaches such as meetings and information sessions. As such, regular meetings are held with the different community councils and businesses to allow them to voice their concerns. This is an ideal measuring-stick to help me determine the effectiveness of what I am doing.
“It is crucial to be able to compartmentalise, because I am working on ongoing projects or activities, but new projects are being added. The complexity might vary, but the end result has to still be to the satisfaction of the community.
“Additionally, in an effort to effectively curb crime, safety tips are provided to the community groups, inclusive schools, about crime prevention. Even though tremendous progress has been made in the fight against crime, many communities are still in need of additional resources to break the overall hold of crime,” stated Carty.
“Acceptance of constructive change by police and community is central. Trust is key, I am a police officer every day whether I am in uniform or not. My code of ethics shapes my identity. It’s easy to stand up to a bandit; it takes a little more determination to stand up to yourself.
“I would like to think of myself as being liberally open-minded. In this job and in this function, it’s key to our success. There is always a willingness to experiment, to step out of the pre-established comfort zones and try new ideas. After all, if we always do what we always did, we will only get what we already have. Communication remains high and the exchange of ideas both within and outside the police structure.
“I am blessed with the challenge of keeping these communities, citizens and their children safe. I have lost friends and mentors, seeing firsthand the sacrifice others are willing to make. I honour those lost and their sacrifices continuously motivate me to step up. I will continue to respond to assure that the streets of this country remain safe. This isn’t just the job I am tasked with; I wear this uniform with great pride and I am honoured to serve as Police Officer.”
In conclusion, he wanted the community also to be aware that he cares about the wellbeing of his district, “I care about the children who are trying to find their way; I want them to understand that eventhough their choices have consequences, thatmaking mistakes does not have to be neither fatal nor final statuses to their future. The choice to make better choices is always an option as long as that individual is willing to, at the very least, try.
“I would remind all citizens and residents of St. Maarten that our success as a people requires us all to come together and cooperate. We should do more to look out for each other – to be, as it were, our brothers’ keeper. We can only reminisce for so long about the ‘good old days’ before we realise that we are going to have to work on building the future we want for ourselves and for our children.
“We have to stop waiting until there is a crisis for us to come together. We need to start seeing ourselves as a family, and remember that family is not only when things are good. Do you remember as children when no one could trash-talk your siblings? We are more than prime real estate and blue waters. We need to do better when it comes to honouring our home and family. As a people, we are our first line of defence.”
For more information, contact CPO Steven Carty at tel. 1-721-588-4033 or email
steven [DOT] carty [AT] policesxm [DOT] sx .
Source: The Daily Herald Know your Community Police Officer