Says Acting Commissioner.
HAS the Royal St Lucia Police Force got over the unease and tension that had threatened to overwhelm it following the March 8 address to the nation by Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony on the IMPACS report?
Acting Police Commissioner, Errol Alexander wants to believe that the worse is behind the Force but is treading on the side of caution, noting that while it was rough going for the police force in the aftermath of the Prime Minister’s address and despite the Director of Public Prosecutions, Victoria Charles Clarke’s recent pronouncement that the report lacked evidentiary material under Saint Lucia law for prosecution, there had been no closure on the matter.
Alexander said: “It has been a very rough period for us in the Force this year. We needed to settle the Force, put in a little motivation, and to do that we had to embark on a number of things. For instance we had our police awards a bit earlier, rewarding persons who had worked assiduously and stations, units and departments that had performed credibly,” Alexander said.
A police executive retreat was also held so as to gather ideas and plan ahead for the steady manoeuvering of the police force following the Prime Minister’s address.
He admitted that the Force had been continuously strategizing to improve its mandate to the country in the wake of the IMPACS report. He believed that the several acting positions within the ranks of the gazette officers also added to the rough patch the Force went through this year as many of the officers had their confidence shaken not knowing where they stood regarding their positions.
A VOICE Inquiry indicated that at the time of the Prime Minister’s March 8 address and immediately after, between 90% – 95% of the gazetted ranks were acting.
Crime statistics released earlier this year showed that for the first three months of the year the country recorded zero homicides. However the following month and after the Prime Minister’s IMPACS address. seven homicides were recorded, a fact Alexander noted pushed his executive to strategize around a plan to bring that number down.
Since then however, the number of homicides per month, April has remained below seven, a credit Alexander gives to his team for the strategy they came up with at the time.
“We’re hoping that we are going into the smooth. We are not saying that IMPACS is away from us. What we are saying is that police officers now have come to grips with the fact that there is a report and certain expectations are coming in from the investigations and they have prepared themselves mentally to deal with it when it comes,” Alexander said.
He added: “With the New Year approaching, we are not saying that IMPACS is behind our backs. We have psychologically built ourselves back into the organization facing the realities of IMPACs moving forward and knowing that we have a job to do and that we have to as best as possible increase our performance,” Alexander said.
“We have gone through the rough; now we are going through the healing process. If you look at team building we have gone through the stormy stage where everyone was confused. Now we are going through the bonding stage where everybody understands the realities of IMPACS,” Alexander said, adding that now the Force, which has always been focused on what needs to be done in its mandate to serve and protect, is even more focused on what it has to do.