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Commissioner ag Mark K Payne, Royal Montserrat Police Service

New Acting Police Commissioner Has Upskilling Plan for Local Officers

Acting Police Commissioner Mark Payne says he is working on a plan to upskill the local service.

Payne is the latest in a series of acting commissioners and deputy commissioners from across the United Kingdom and British Overseas Territories working with the local police service until a substantive commissioner and deputy are appointed.

On Monday, Commissioner Payne announced that 24 officers are currently undergoing training to use Taser devices “as part of the organisation’s initiative to enhance the safety of the community and its officers.” More officers are expected to undergo the training in the near future.

Payne told Discover Montserrat the “officers who have completed the Taser training are now trained to exactly the same standard as those in other OT’s and the UK, so they are equally well prepared.

“I am working to develop a training plan to upskill RMPS officers in Investigation, Neighbourhood Policing, Safeguarding and Intelligence,” the senior police official also revealed.

The Taser training is being facilitated by Officers from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS); who will also provide ongoing support to the RMPS with training and accreditation.

A total of 10 TASERs are on island and available for use.

“The TASER devices will be made available to RMPS officers thanks to the kind assistance of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) and Deputy Commissioner Wade Chase, who is currently here on secondment,” stated Commissioner Payne.

“TASERs are the safest option in these circumstances, they cause no lasting damage to the individual subject, keep the public and officers safe, and are a better option than using a baton, which can cause serious injury. Officers will have to seek authority from a senior officer prior to signing out the TASER devices to ensure that there is rigorous decision making in place prior to their use,” explained the official.

In a video message to the public, the commissioner acknowledged that the community might be concerned about the training but reassured the safe use of the devices was the intent.

“Currently our police officers do not have access to any equipment that allows them to safely deal with a risk posed by somebody using a knife or bladed weapon. This means that they cannot effectively protect the public or themselves when faced with such a situation. TASERs provide them with an effective way to keep the public safe,” Payne stated.

Although crime rates in Montserrat are low and incidents of violence are rare, Commissioner Payne said it is his responsibility to ensure that when and if they do happen, police officers have the best equipment available to keep the public safe.

Commissioner Payne also explained that TASER devices are not completely new to Montserrat: “I am really pleased that we have been able to provide the officers of the Royal Montserrat Police Service with the option of using TASER devices again. They have been available on the island previously, but we have been able to acquire some new devices to provide our officers with modern equipment.

“We have some fantastic officers in RMPS, and I already see that they are passionate and capable. I am looking to develop a programme to make them as well trained and effective as possible,” added Commissioner Payne.

Acting Commissioner Mark Keith Payne is a former UK Commander of West Midlands Region Counter Terrorism Unit and a trained Strategic Firearms Commander. He was sworn in with effect from Saturday May 18, 2024.