Published On: Sun, Jun 24th, 2018

Police impress public with live reporting of Carrefour fire

Screenshot Carrefour Market building roof

PHILIPSBURG — According to a police report issued by the office of Police Spokesman, Chief Inspector Ricardo Henson, on the morning of Thursday, June 21, at approximately 7:35 a.m. the first call came into the emergency dispatch center via 911 stating that heavy smoke was coming through the roof from the interior of Carrefour Market (the former Le Grand Marche supermarket) on Bush Road and that the building was burning on the inside.

Immediately several police patrols and fire Department were sent to the scene to investigate what was taking place. On the scene the investigating officers realized that the building was indeed burning on the inside. The Fire Department immediately went to work in extinguishing the fire while the police officers on the scene diverted traffic into other directions and not allowing any traffic to use the Church Hill roundabout.

The fire was immediately contained by the fire department to avoid it from spreading to other parts of the building and in doing so minimized damage to the building and its contents. As a result of the fire traffic was backed up for approximately three hours. At approximately 10:35 a.m. the fire was totally under control and traffic could flow normally. No one was injured in this fire.

Screenshot Drone Footage Traffic Diversion via Coralita Road from LB Scot Road

Drone usage to report on fire and traffic situation

StMaartenNews.com interviewed Ricardo Henson about the use of the police drone during the Carrefour fire. Henson explained that after hurricanes Irma and Maria with roads blocked and no mobility for the police force to get around island easily, drones were deployed to do aerial reconnaissance, to assess and get insight into the extent of damages on the island.

Besides the drone, the police now have access to six cameras on the island as part of the surveillance camera project implemented with the help of the Justice ministry, the Chamber of Commerce and TelEm. However, drones offer the most flexibility and speed in getting aerial information about critical situations. This was also the case with the Carrefour fire. Pilots from the Traffic Department were able to feed video footage directly to the i-Phone of police spokesman, Ricardo Henson, who is authorized to speak on behalf of the Chief of Police, Carl John, for the police force in these situations. Henson was able to narrate during a live broadcast via the Facebook page of the St. Maarten Police Force KPSM and update the viewers and the press real-time on the ongoing situation surrounding the Carrefour building and the backed-up traffic in the surrounding areas.

Police Spokesman Chief Ricardo Henson

The police force is hard at work and looking to further invest in the drone and communication technology needed to allow them not only to fight crime and use the technology as a deterrent, but also to provide live reporting and updates on accidents and traffic jams on the roads so that motorists can be diverted on a timely basis to allow for the free flow of traffic quickly. A point of concern for Henson was the necessary technology still needed to be implemented to block out the background noise, sounds and radio chatter from colleagues when he was reporting live.

In any event, the Carrefour fire proved beyond a shadow of doubt that the police drones provide a vital service. Henson’s department will be looking at ways to link directly to news sites and radio stations for the re-broadcasts of the live police reports simultaneously with the police Facebook page.