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US pledges its continued support

US pledges its continued support

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The United States government has pledged its continued financial support to Regional Security Systems (RSS) member states to deal with the rising level of drug trafficking activity across the region.{{more}}

Christopher Sandrolini, Chargé d’Affaires at the United States Embassy in Barbados, said at the opening ceremony of the RSS Heads meeting last Friday, March 23, at Grenadine House, that the continued support came even at a time when most countries were having financial constraints.

But even in the face of those constraints, there were still a few tools at their disposal that could be used in the effort.

These tools included regional cooperation and communication, Sandrolini said.

He explained that drug trafficking in the region had the potential to lead to other social problems, including escalating rates of violent crime, corruption in high places and among law enforcement institutions, and stimulated youth gangs.

In terms of the financial assistance, work to continue the upgrade of the RSS’s air wing continues with assistance now totaling US$23 million, he said.

This comes after it was announced in November 2011 that the US Government would provide US$10 million to upgrade the air wing.

Sandrolini announced that an additional US$2 million has been allocated to go towards training RSS member states personnel and that US$450,000 in new funds would be made available to RSS member states, so that law enforcement officers can become fully trained polygraphers.

“This will provide sustainability to our RSS member nations for ongoing and urgently needed vetting capabilities, which are essential to preventing and rooting out corruption in law enforcement,” he explained.

Another US$1.5 million will be allocated, according to Sandrolini, to expand RSS member states’ capabilities in prison and correctional facilities, to help make them safer, more secure and more humane.

“And will provide mentoring, as well as equipment and training for corrections officials,” he said.

This country will also benefit from a package worth US$14 million, which includes the donation of two vessels to each of the OECS countries, as well as communications upgrades, the US diplomat announced.

The region’s juvenile justice system is also expected to get a boost when the United States Agency for International Development implements an agreement with the OECS Secretariat to strengthen the juvenile justice systems by improving the legal and regulatory framework.

But while Sandrolini announced the continued support of his government to the RSS member states, he asked the various regional heads and heads of law enforcement to make an appeal for officers to be more responsive to the programmes outlined.

He said that on occasion, the US resources dedicated to training and other kinds of cooperation did not get the types of responses, or in some instances, officers who were invited to participate, never show up.

“This is unfortunate for all parties concerned,” Sandrolini said.

“We are accountable for the use of our funds so we ask you to urge everyone to be professional with us as we must be with you,” he said. (DD)

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