MARIGOT–President Daniel Gibbs announced Thursday the Collectivité’s initiative to implement an SMS warning system to alert all merchants and businesses in real time by mobile phone of an armed robbery in progress or just committed, is now ready to start and will help improve security through instant communication, sharing of information and preventative actions.
The warning system is a collaborative effort between Collectivité, Gendarmerie, Chamber of Commerce, and the Merchants Association of Marigot.
Present on Thursday were Lt. Colonel Sébastien Manzoni from the Gendarmerie, Chamber of Commerce President Angèle Dormoy, President of the Merchants Association of Marigot Yann Lecam, Director of the Collectivité’s anti-delinquency department Conseil Locale de Scurité et Prevention de la Delinquance (CLSPD) Melanie Hodge, and Territorial Police members.
A short film explaining the system was shown.
The Gendarmerie first introduced the warning system called “Vigicommerce” on March 13, 2018, at a well-received presentation attended by local merchants as well as Indian and Chinese merchant associations where a convention was signed between Gendarmerie and Chamber of Commerce.
Since then Melanie Hodge has been collaborating with the partners to get the system set up. The objective is to have fast transmission of information to help thwart armed robberies and warn other shopkeepers to be on their guard. SMS is a modern, low cost, rapid and efficient method of communication that will have a dissuasive effect on would-be offenders.
The system works from the initial call to the emergency number “17” at the dispatch centre of the Gendarmerie. Information from the call about a robbery is relayed by SMS in French and English to merchants all over the island; Marigot, Bellevue, Sandy Ground, French Quarter, Hope Estate, Oyster Pond etc. It will state whether the robbers are armed, how many of them there may be, their physical descriptions, and whether there is any mode of transport.
There is no charge for merchants to be on the SMS alert list but all businesses wanting to be on it must be registered with the Chamber of Commerce first.
Yann Lecam said 74 merchants or businesses, including 17 Indian merchants, have registered with the Chamber already. The scope of his association, mostly in Marigot, has 108 commercial businesses and some of those are duplicated in Hope Estate.
Working in tandem with the SMS alert system is the Vigicommerce sticker that will be attached to the shop fronts of participating merchants.
“We ordered 250 stickers for now but I’m sure we will need more,” said Dormoy. “When the merchants register with us they get the stickers and the SMS alerts. They must register because we have to verify if it is a bona fide business that exists. Everything is set to go and all our preparation and the SMS platform is completed. We bought the SMS package but it is the Gendarmerie that sends them out.
“And it’s not just the shops that can benefit from the warning system. Anyone who has a business; a doctor, lawyer, pharmacy etc. can use it once they are registered as a business.
“The Gendarmerie also has the option to decide who it sends out the SMS to. For example, if it is a jewellery store that has been robbed the SMS might only go out to warn all the other jewellery stores. It depends.”
Starting June 4, Gendarmerie and Territorial Police patrols will resume in Marigot to visit businesses to make sure their security prevention methods are up to par.