The Honorable Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson recently returned from a short family vacation to the United States. While there, Minister Richardson took notice of an advertisement of the New Castle County Police Crime Service Unit in the State of Delaware. Having the Ministry of Justice at heart and with the Victim Support Services (VSS) unit for St. Maarten being in its final stages of setup, Minister Richardson seized an opportunity to contact the department and secured a visit to the facility.
Minister Richardson met with Unit Coordinator Ms. Marki Mosley and had an enlightening discussion. Much like the core services VSS is structured to provide, the Victim Service Unit (VSU) of New Castle County Division of Police provides help to victims and witnesses affected by crime, trauma, and tragic circumstances by providing support, information and referral to community agencies and services to help reduce the impact of trauma.
The VSU of New Castle is staffed with five specialists in the field of victim support. Specialists undergo special training to handle matters of domestic violence, homicide, suicide, sexual assault and other high-impact crimes. The unit has been assisting victims since 1989 and continues to devote itself to helping victims of trauma.
A crime can take place in a matter of seconds but the negative impact can last a lifetime. Therefore, it is essential to have a department or entity outfitted with certified specialists who are compassionate and focused on helping victims and witnesses regardless of their age, sex, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, disability or mother tongue.
In March of this year, the positions to outfit St. Maarten’s VSS were published and a healthy number of reactions were received. The resume packages of the applicants are being reviewed and interviews are currently underway to identify the most qualified persons for the positions.
During the discussion Minister Richardson had with the VSU of New Castle, she inquired about training courses and seminars that are hosted to ensure specialists in the field are aware of current and relevant information needed to facilitate support to victims. Unit Coordinator Ms. Mosley confirmed that seminars and information sessions are constant and with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, much is administered online. These online training and seminar platforms grant a great opportunity for VSS St. Maarten to have a broader-based network of information sharing.
In this regard, it was relevant to mention the existing MoU between the United States and the Ministries of Justice within the Dutch Kingdom to stimulate joint activities and enhance sharing of information
in the area of criminal investigation and uphold public order and security and strengthen the mutual cooperation in the areas of forensics and the organization of the criminal justice system.
On June 2, 2016, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the United States Department of Justice and the four Ministries of Justice within the Kingdom of the Netherlands was established to enhance the existing cooperation as well as to strengthen law enforcement and the criminal justice systems in the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands by rendering each other assistance. It is determined in the MoU that this assistance can be provided through i.e. the training of personnel and the exchange of experts.
During her visit to the VSU, Minister Richardson made reference to the existence of this MoU between the US and the Kingdom. She intends to explore how this MoU can be utilized more efficiently to actively participate in international and Kingdom training- and seminar platforms as this can be a viable opportunity for VSS.
Minister Richardson remains fiercely committed to providing members of the Law Enforcement chain with all the tools and confidence to carry out their tasks in the best manner possible for the community of St. Maarten. Making use of the existing agreements between our international and Kingdom counterparts in order to benefit from their build-up expertise, could be a welcome addition to realizing this ambition.
“As Minister of Justice, I am always seeking to improve and strengthen the Ministry. Though I was on vacation, I thought it imperative to contact this agency and request a meeting with its Director to learn more about their operation. As such, I’d like to thank Ms. Mosley for receiving me so positively and taking the time out of her busy schedule to meet with me. I am elated for the opportunity and look forward to the sharing of information and best practices between VSU and other similar institutions globally in the interest of providing the best support to those in need of it the most; victims, witnesses and their families,” stated Minister Richardson.