Monday, March 14, 2005

Crime - a Serious Island Problem

Recently, there are more reports about crimes on the island. A significant share happens between the local population, often involving battery and assault. Unfortunately, also some robbery incidents involving visitors occurred. One focal point has been the area around Oyster Pond, an usually very quiet area.

A widely discussed question in message boards, such as
(TTOL) is the inconsistent response by police. Mainly, the French police, the Gendarmerie Nationale has been blamed for being non responsive.

Living here, the picture is somewhat mixed. The French Government is spending substantial funds for security. Beside the local Gendarmerie staff, they swap in some 38 additional Gendarmes each quarter, who are delegated from police stations in France. These officers publicly show a lot of presence. They regularly establish road blocks, and check people and cars.

The municipal police force is a separate city controlled unit mainly dedicated to traffic control and street safety. They show a strong presence in Marigot and Grand Case, but not much at other locations.

The criminal investigations are to a large extent the domain of the Guadeloupe crime unit. French St. Martin is a subordinated, administrative unit of Guadeloupe. If a serious crime happens, they fly in from Guadeloupe, and direct the investigation.

Although, I did not personally experience any crime, and had no reporting needs to the police, I have experienced the Gendarmerie as polite, straightforward, committed, and responsive. When compared to the many other islands, we visited or lived on, it is positively one of the safer ones. (on another island, we experienced that police officers had been the burglars, and broke into our office!!!) We are here far off Jamaican "standards". Still, everybody got to be careful, and we have to realize that this island, as many others, is not a quiet Midwest town. A melting pot of dozens of ethnic groups, a wide range from super rich to extremely poor, and administrative shortcomings create a dangerous mix at times!


Anonymous said...

Well people rob stupid white people like u

Anonymous said...