MARIGOT–The Gendarmerie has outlined its objectives for 2019 while addressing the security and delinquency situation in St. Martin and St. Barths during the past year.
Lieutenant Colonel Sébastien Manzoni told reporters that figures for the past consecutive three years were “favourable,” showing a reduction in serious crime and armed robberies. He said this was in no small measure due to dedication of the men and women in the Gendarmerie and Police, and the cooperation with the Dutch-side police. He said he hoped to extend the cooperation further with the latter in 2019.
One such measure he disclosed was for both sides to work towards the creation of a Centre de Cooperation Policière and Douanière (CCPD) – police and customs cooperation – which will extend assistance and cooperation not only in St. Martin but also with neighbouring islands.
On the negative side, vehicle theft is particularly alarming occurring at the rate of one theft per day on the French side. The Gendarmerie continues to work on reducing this phenomenon and apprehending the perpetrators. An awareness campaign with flyers will put the onus on buyers, particularly for second-hand vehicles, to be more vigilant.
One tip the Gendarmerie mentioned is to check the serial number of the car. The number on the chassis of the vehicle should correspond with the number on the registration document. Verification such as this helps prevent the buyer from becoming the owner of a stolen vehicle.
Manzoni added some cars written off by insurance companies and destined to be stripped and recycled at the processing facility at the eco-landfill in Grandes Cayes, are instead getting repaired and put back on the roads.
Another concern for the Gendarmerie is the apparently reckless behaviour of young scooter or motorbike riders. The three deaths on the road this past year have all involved scooter riders (one was a quad).
It plans to beef up its awareness campaign with the mobile and juvenile delinquency brigades in the schools and with the associations. Despite the excellent work of associations such as Centre Symphorien d’Insertion (CSI), which held five helmet awareness days in 2018 including giving away free helmets, there is little change in the behaviour. The Gendarmerie also intends to work with Association Moto Action du Nord (AMAN) on a safety awareness campaign.
The Gendarmerie disclosed it has a new “intervenante sociale” or specialized social worker. Jessica Lorio who has a background as a clinical psychologist started at the beginning of the year taking over from Priscilla Gazon who completed her one-year mission. This contractual post is renewed each year and is financed by the State and the Collectivité.
As the title suggests, this person assists the Gendarmerie by intervening in delicate matters or domestic disputes and provides the link between Gendarmerie and lawyers, the court, victims associations and the services of the Collectivité. Lorio will be based at the Gendarmerie in Marigot and from time to time at the new Gendarmerie in Hope Estate.
Just recently the Gendarmerie announced the launch of a neighbourhood watch programme – Citizen Participation, with the district councils. The idea is to recruit persons from the districts to be observers and to report suspicious activity to the Gendarmerie which in turn will lead to quicker and more effective response. It is about getting the population more involved in security and working with the Gendarmerie.
Concordia (district council three) was chosen as the first area to start the programme. A convention to this effect was signed by President Daniel Gibbs, Préfète Délgéuée Sylvie Feucher and General Jean-Marc Descoux, Commandant of the Gendarmerie in Guadeloupe, on Thursday evening.