If You Asked Me, Letters & Opinion

Where Credit Is Due

Stan Bishop
Stan Bishop

A few weeks ago, a close friend of mine, Catalya, called me to give me some really bad news. While on a performance gig during the CPL cricket tournament held at Beausejour Cricket Ground, thieves had broken into the vehicle in which she had left her personal belongings and made off with the loot. She was devastated.

Among the items stolen, she told me, were her cell phone, bank cards, identification cards and money. The theft hurt her deeply, she said, because she had virtually become a non-entity: no way of identifying herself or contacting the long contact list of family and friends stored in her phone or accessing the bank’s ATM. Thankfully, I was able to contact her through Facebook until she got a new phone.

A few weeks later, Catalya messaged me from her new phone to tell me that she had gotten a new phone. But the best news came just days later when she messaged me to say that she would soon be in receipt of her lost documents. No money, no cell phone – just the documents.

It turns out that the police were able to zero in on whoever had relieved Catalya of her precious belongings. The police department contacted her and told her to pick up her belongings at the police station whenever she got the chance. As to how the police did it, that’s their secret. Nevertheless, that’s some excellent work.

Catalya’s reunion with her lost items came a few days within the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) holding its promotions ceremony on August 2. A few things about the police force went through my mind when that promotion ceremony was held.

Firstly, those promotions came amidst a cloud still hanging over the Force regarding the IMPACS report spurred by alleged extra-judicial killings said to have been committed by police officers a few years ago.

Secondly, I thought about the ongoing debacle regarding Police Commissioner Vernon Francois who is probably not too pleased with the extended vacation leave he is being given by the Public Service Commission (PSC).

Thirdly, I thought about how refreshing it was that despite the many other trials and errors the Force has gone through of late police officers were still able to demonstrate that they can remain dutiful and motivated enough to want to aspire to better things and stations in their Force.

Fourthly, I also thought about when I was the victim of a break-in nearly three years ago when bandit/s made off with several irreplaceable possessions, a crime for which police still seem baffled even though they lifted fingerprints from the crime scene.

At that graduation ceremony, 27 Constables were promoted to the rank of Corporal, 11 from Corporal to Sergeant and four from Sergeant to Inspector. Their promotions have not come by easily, according to Minister for Home Affairs, Victor La Corbiniere, who said those up for promotions this year had to be polygraphed. Maybe a future Police Commissioner is among that batch. Who knows?

In his address to the promoted police officers, Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony said the promotion exercise “must build the collective confidence of the society in its principal law enforcement agency.” I think so, too. We live in an age where despite the many setbacks people will always be motivated to excel in their respective fields.

In my view, these promoted police officers should now deem themselves ambassadors who must be willing to bring about the climate where the populace can afford to depend on its police officers to do their jobs efficiently and professionally. Like us, police officers must also uphold the law.

Quite often, it seems so easy to criticize people and institutions whenever things do not go the way we believe to be the right way yet fail to recognize when they do so admirably. As such, much praise needs to go to the promoted police officers for earning that next achievement in their law enforcement careers.

While the police force continues to leave no stone unturned in trying to have the public on its side in tackling crime, many Saint Lucians have and will continue to publicly vent their outrage about the police force not doing the job it swears to do. With so many police officers being accused of wrong doing these days, it must be really hard to keep morale levels up in the Force let alone operate at an optimal level.

But what Catalya’s experience has shown me is that there are some police officers who are willing to go above and beyond – while staying within the realms of the law, no doubt – to create a harmonious relationship with the citizenry. Just when Catalya had resorted to going through the rigours of acquiring new identification and bank cards, she received that call out of nowhere telling her that she would be reunited with her belongings. We need more happy endings like that from the police force.

Finally, to those police officers who did not make the cut this time around, this does not mean that your efforts are not appreciated. It just means that you may want to learn from those who did make the cut just what it took to be recognized. Success breeds success if only we all are willing to learn from others – not by thinking we can do it all by ourselves. Rome was not built in a day and I doubt only one Roman built it.

In any event, the good – or bad – of a few will always have either a positive or negative impact on the pack. If you asked me, these promoted police officers set a fine example for those who continue to uphold their oath to protect and serve.

Bravo!

Stan Bishop began his career in journalism in March 2008 writing freelance for The VOICE newspaper for six weeks before being hired as a part-time journalist there when one of the company’s journalists was overseas on assignment.

Although he was initially told that the job would last only two weeks, he was able to demonstrate such high quality work that the company offered him a permanent job before that fortnight was over. Read full bio...

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