THE fallout between the Government of Saint Lucia and the United States over 12 persons who met their deaths following encounters with officers of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force during 2010 – 2011 has not affected the Force as much as it could have.
“We have been very innovative. We have done a lot of work internally to go around the U.S. lack of assistance,” Acting Police Commissioner Errol Alexander said.
The killings, which led to the withdrawal of assistance from the Americans to the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force, has driven a wedge in relations between the two countries with the USA, in its report on Human Rights Practices in Saint Lucia for 2011 reporting the killings as “unlawful”.
The assistance halted to the police force was in the form of financial and technical, especially to Saint Lucia’s Coast Guard Unit. Other sanctions were imposed such as the Government of Saint Lucia not being able to purchase ammunition for its USA made weapons; members of the Police Force could not participate in any training programme sponsored or financed by the United States and further denied participation in training activities in the Regional Security System (RSS) once the training was sponsored or financed by the United States.
Other consequences triggered by the action taken by the United States were the revocation of the U.S. visa of former Deputy Police Commissioner, Moses Charles and the denial of entry into the U.S. of top members of the local police hierarchy despite having US visas in their possession.
Alexander admits that although feeling the squeeze a bit, being in the grip of the sanctions, he and his executive were able to work out a way to train more police officers and do other things that have kept the force in shape and producing positive results.
He said that the government had join in supporting the police force by increasing its budget for local training and in assisting in other areas.
Organizations like the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourist Association helped the police force in laying out their strategy for the Christmas just past by financing 13 more Special Reserve Police Officers to be on the streets from November of last year to March of this year.