That Feeling of Fear

WHATEVER magic the police have up their well-ironed sleeves, they certainly need to pull the rabbit out the hat right now and quit kicking the serious crime fighting can down the road.

In the past week alone, gunfire has become a familiar sound especially in the city, leaving people either injured or killed, with police scrambling to piece together motives and common sense in their quest for the perpetrators.

Not that the recent spate in gun and other forms of violence is anything new. In fact, there is not a single day in this relatively small country when the news does not include the unfortunate results from senseless acts of violence, including rapes, murders and maiming. In almost every instance, the cops seem to be baffled by the happenings.

Since coming into effect in 2014, the police are yet to unequivocally state whether anyone has since been charged – let alone found guilty – of breaching the Anti-Gang Act (No. 4 of 2014) that former Minister for Justice, Victor la Corbinierre, touted so proudly. Even the current Minister for National Security, Hermangild Francis, and other government ministers seem to be giving the public assurances that still fall flat.

The truth is that citizens need to feel safe, especially when their taxes fund a police force that perennially complains about not getting adequate resources – human and otherwise – from a central government whose ministers and other top officials have the luxury of bodyguards safeguarding their every move.

While crimes will happen anytime and anyplace, and police officers cannot be everywhere at all times, it stands to reason that we either do better as a police force or simply outsource the undertaking altogether, as is the new norm these days. Why should citizens have to be burdened with a system that seems to make more excuses than moves to ameliorate the overwhelming feeling of fear?

Some measure of commendation, however, must go to the Castries Constituency Council (CCC) for the recorded success to date of its city police programme. One wonders what the case might have been had these city cops not been hired to at least keep the city under watch on a daily basis as opposed to only when cruise ships pulled into the harbour.

While the police force must be commended for expanding its community outreach programmes to bridge public trust in its work, it must understand that it should not find itself accepting the same excuses from successive administrations. If the Force truly is forceful in fighting crime, then it must be seen to be working assiduously in restoring the public’s confidence in its work.

The government, too, needs to understand that the right complement of human and other resources the Force needs is not a second-rate priority but something that demanded serious attention years ago. It’s now your turn to accept the problem and fix it speedily.

If not, we are simply fooling ourselves that building massive edifices to attract investment would suffice in a climate of fear where even those coming here for some sun, sea and sand might think twice and simply soak up whatever problems they already have in their locales.

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