More Shooting Over Weekend.
NIGHTLY gunfire was heard yet again this weekend in more than one Castries community, but it was not the result of criminal activity, rather, a celebration ritual by the shooters, reports gleaned by The VOICE indicate.
Although it is unclear what the weekend celebration was about, this latest gunplay highlights the frequency of these outbursts that have been increasing in frequency in recent times causing anxiety and fear among residents.
National Security Minister Hermangild Francis said that the Commissioner of Police is devising a formula on how the various threatened communities would be policed adding that the police force would be engaging both the soft and strong types of policing.
“We have seen the breakdown in the social fabric of the society so it is for the government now to put in plans and policies that we can address these kinds of things,” Francis told reporters at a press briefing last week.
The spate of crime that has seized the country since the start of the year resulting in 14 homicides in just five weeks appears to be taking a toll on the manpower of the police force which has asked the government for an extra 50 officers to fill its ranks.
“We are doing our best in ensuring that when a crime has been committed that the responders would be there within a certain reasonable time,” acting Police Commissioner Milton Desir said, smartly emphasizing the manpower shortage in the Force.
“We have incidents of crime everywhere and we need to deploy the resources effectively,” he added, highlighting places like Hospital Road, Conway and Marchand as areas that need attention and emphatically stating that the limited resources of the police force must be used wisely.
“We are confined in terms of resources, so what we do, we use the resources as effectively as possible,” Desir said.
Francis agrees with Desir’s explanation of how the resources of the police force are used and called on the public to use the technology in their grasp, like the smart phone.
“Persons who see things do not need to come out openly and say anything. They could make a call, take a photo and send it anonymously. That will assist the police. The criminals use the technology,” Francis pointed out.
While he applauds the Castries City Constabulary for putting officers on the streets of the city he said they were too confined in their patrols therefore more officers would be needed. He was not speaking in vain however, because The VOICE has been reliably informed that the Castries Constituencies Council is working on beefing up the constabulary to a maximum of 50 officers to patrol the wider regions of the city.
It also appears that the government is looking favourably at the request by Police Commissioner SeverinMoncherry for the additional police officers asked for.
“I think the Prime Minister is in tune to that and hopefully he will grant that request,” Francis said, adding the Prime Minister had given the assurance he would look after the police force.
But one of the most worrying aspects of the recurring incidents of gunplay to both top law enforcement officers in the country is the number of firearms in the hands of criminals.
Police last year alone retrieved 35 guns from criminals as a result of intelligence and snap checks to search out these firearms.
“Our checks are effective but more are coming,” warned Desir, adding that the main thing is to prevent illegal guns from reaching St. Lucia’s borders.
Licensed firearm holders will now have to provide a DNA sample of their firearm to the police, meaning that the firearm is brought to the lab where it will be test-fired for the sample which will be placed on record. This is supposed to quickly identify the firearm and its owner should its DNA surface at a crime scene.