The staff at Her Majesty’s Prison at Richmond Hill, St. George has been increased by another forty-five young men and women following a Passing out Parade last Thursday at Camp Salines in the south of the island.
The newly recruited prison officers were trained by members of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) and received three months of rigorous training and exercises.
Held under the theme, “Discipline and Commitment – The Key to Correctional Excellence”, the passing out ceremony was held under the patronage of Commissioner of Police, Winston James, and Commissioner of Prisons, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), John Mitchell.
Minister of State with responsibility for Disaster Management and Information, Senator Winston Garraway was also present.
The training programme was based on a new standard created for Custodial Security, Level 2 NVQ, together with other elements introduced by the Police Training School.
Commissioner of Prisons, ASP Mitchell encouraged the new officers to be on the alert at all times, as the prison is filled with reformed and non-reformed prisoners.
“From now until the day that you retire, the eyes of inmates, the eyes of your fellow officers and colleagues, the eyes of the general public will be on you. You will be subject to Monday morning quarter backs…you would be subject to 20/20 hindsight vision. Every action you take or you don’t take would be subject to intense scrutiny. This is just a fact of life for you from now on”, he said.
“…You must always remain inquisitive, you must always remain suspicious, you must always remain very thorough in the execution of your functions. If you do not do that, you will be unfit for duty. There are inmates who spend most of their time planning how to destroy the intrinsic values or to degrade the system and processes to penetrate our security. You will encounter the worst of society, those who have committed the most hideous crimes and yet show no signs of remorse. On the contrary, you would encounter fine spirited inmates who have seriously embraced rehabilitation for the reintegration into society. I urge you to know the difference, but one thing is constant, they are all inmates,” he added.
Acting Superintendent of Police, Gregory Mathurine who delivered the Commandment’s Address told the ceremony in his address that the newly trained officers can contribute to the transformation of Her Majesty’s Prison.
He said the recruits were exposed to topics such as the history of the prison, structure of the prison, as well as the role and responsibilities of the various ranks.
According to Mathurine, the recruits were lectured on life skills which is seen as critical “in the transformation and the remodeling and reshaping” of the minds of inmates.
“…I am saying that they (the recruits) must have life skills and as a result communication was a big factor”, he said.
The Commandante also identified interpersonal skills and relationships, as well as personality type, conflict management as critical areas that were focused upon as part of the training regime.
He stated that one of the critical factors that help de-motivate and bring “our fellow officers into problems is how they manage their monies and (it was) also included in this programme (as) an aspect of financial management”.
Junior Officer, Nike Baptiste delivered the Valedictorian address on behalf of the 45 inmates and looked back at the time spent at the training school.
He said: “Today we acknowledge the people we met, reflect on the lessons we learnt, remember the tears and the laughter and the memories that we created during our stay at the training school as junior officers.
“We remember these experiences as for some of us, it was our first time being on our own away from our parents and loved ones…”, he added.
Baptiste pointed out that “a deep sense of fear ate the pit of our stomachs” and that “the fear of failure, the fear of the unknown and the fear of the future” often times occupied the minds of the recruits.
However, he said that the newly enlisted prison officers were well trained to take on the responsibilities that lie ahead.
“…We have what it takes to push boundaries and to effect positive change at Her Majesty’s Prison in whatever small measures as we serve, protect and rehabilitate…”, he remarked.
In the special awards section Baptiste received the highest award – the Baton of Honour while Tomica George ended up with the award for Highest Aggregate, and the Best Turned Out Female prize was awarded to Krystal George who was also recognised as Best at First Aid and Best at Drills.
The Best turned out male was Dwayne Modeste, Best Female at Physical Training went to Shemica Roberts while Best Male at Physical Training was adjudged to be Christon Courtney.