FOR the second time in as many weeks, the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force finds itself having to deal strongly with some of its own in their failure to discharge their obligations properly.
First was the scenario at the Anse la Raye Police Station where it was discovered that certain firearms were missing prompting an investigation spearheaded by a special anti-corruption unit within the police force.
Now with investigations into that development still fresh and far from over, the department finds itself turning its attention to the arrest of three senior police officers at the Richfond, Dennery Police Station for stealing money, about $5000, belonging to the Government of Saint Lucia.
“The unwavering and unanimous position of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force in matters were professional and organizational guidelines are compromised is clear and unambiguous. There is zero tolerance for this level of behaviour. It is unacceptable and inexcusable, period,” Police Commissioner (acting) Errol Alexander said.
The three policemen charged are Ted Biscette, Police Constable 272 for the offence of stealing by employee. Sylvester Joseph, Police Corporal 224 of 20 plus years of service, for the offence of stealing by employee, failure/refusal to deliver money and false attestation, and Jerson Charlemagne, Police Sargeant 479, for the offence of stealing by employee. He too has 20 plus years of service with the police department.
All three have appeared in court in court and are presently on bail and on suspension with half pay.
According to a member of the police hierarchy there seems to be a policy shift in the way the department deals with its members who break the law.
Gone, it seems is the close door approach where officers are disciplined behind a close door with police officers hearing their cases.
“It’s the courts for police officers, no closed door policy anymore,” the official said.
Alexander seemed to be in agreement to this when on Tuesday he told reporters, This law enforcement organization has no reservations or difficulty in allowing the law to take its course in such matters, as would be the case with any other citizen involved in the investigation of this nature.” He was at the time referring to the arrest of the three officers.
Said Alexander: “Let this be food for thought for the rest of us police officers. We must always subject ourselves to the guidelines, procedures, rules and organizational core values which govern our profession. Our actions will always be subjected to review. Again let us all be reminded that we will be held accountable for our actions at the end of the day. That being said, let us all keep in mind that we are innocent until proven guilty according to the law of this land.”
Alexander said he was satisfied that the majority of officers were upstanding, ethical, disciplined and law abiding servants of the people.” and urged them to keep on carrying out their duties with pride,” Alexander said.
However despite the seemingly new direction the organization appears to be taking in the removal of the bad eggs in its midst, the question of the time it took to bring the case against the three officers has caused raised eyebrows in some circles..
The matter of the theft was brought to the attention of the police hierarchy by the audit department of the Government of Saint Lucia after doing one of its spots checks of the department. That was in 2013. Officers assigned to investigate the matter completed their investigations that same year and forthwith submitted their file to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution. The officers were charged only this past Monday..