Letters & Opinion

Of Dis — and not Dat!

Image of Nahdjla Bailey
By Nahdjla Bailey

TODAY I deal exclusively with Dis. No Dats – for I am rather impressed with the energy and output of the Mayor of Castries and the difference he and his team are making in raising the profile of our capital city, which certainly needs all the attention it is now receiving, and more. And as we’ve been told, its environs in the vicinity of Four-a-Chaud are also in line for some physical upliftment. Then, of course, the PM early on shared with us his government’s plans for downtown Castries, primarily the waterfront area, with its important surrounding buildings. Even the so-called (in my day) Flats will hopefully be tackled in time. So I say, let’s be reasonable, and let the good things roll.

Now, it is clear that the reinstatement of today’s City Police is not just a good thing but a very good thing. That’s why I thought it would be interesting for readers, not least the City Police themselves, to learn of the duties of their initial co-equals all the way back in 1850, one hundred and sixty-eight years ago when the Municipal Constabulary was instituted.

Witness the duties of the Municipal Constabulary in 1850. They were defined as follows:
“to watch over the conduct of persons frequenting the Grog-shops in the town, to prevent quarrelling and disorder in them and to cause the Grog-shops to close at eight o’clock at night.
“also to prevent the beating of Negro Drums without permission in writing from the Mayor.
“to prevent at all hours of the Sabbath, the crying or proclaiming or exposure on the streets of any sugar-cakes, bois Manioc, cakes, provisions and other commodities for sale,
“and also to prevent the blowing of shells and trumpets, and the discharging of firearms in the Town,
‘to prevent gambling in the streets and public places,
“to prevent servants or other persons galloping horses or mules in the streets,
“to prevent persons indecently exposing themselves in public or loitering or lying about the streets by night;
“to prevent the exposure of chamber utensils in the streets between the hours of seven in the morning and eight in the evening, except in covered boxes,
“to prevent all persons casting rubbish in any other place than those which shall be appointed,
“to take up and impound all horses, mules, cattle or other animals which shall be found tethered or loose in the streets;
“to prevent damage to the fountain and pipes or other materials of the Water Works within the limits of the Town;
“to prevent the exposure of any clothing, bedding or blankets in the streets;
“to kill all swine found loose about the town and to report to the Mayor any person found harbouring swine.”

But that was then, this is now, and we have our spanking new and useful City Police with us to perform duties relevant to these times, and something which I advised, about nine years ago, should be reinstated, for all the right reasons. So that’s also why I am quite pleased that that unit is now a reality. They say comparisons are odious or, as I prefer to say, ‘can be odious’, but I daresay, not so in this case. The quoted material above is just plain interesting – and somewhat amusing – wouldn’t you say? Incidentally, it is taken from “Historical Review of the Castries Municipality from 1785 to 1967”, an Independence gift (and I mean a gift – free, gratis and for nothing)) to Saint Lucia from its author, my father, F.J. Carasco, and published by authority of the Castries Town Council. Next week we’ll look at what the duties were like in the 60s. In the meantime, I really do hope the Mayor shows this article to his Constables – indeed to all his staff. It will be a confidence and morale booster, fueled by tons of relief and gratitude.

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