THE services offered by police and security firms as it relates to their presence at events is now under the spotlight following Mayor Peter Francis’ critique of the organization last week.
Francis, at a news conference, bashed police for what he said was the force’s failure to provide the necessary manpower to ensure the safety of citizens and visitors in Castries.
He first portrayed himself as a product of the police force on account of his father, a former police officer — now retired — and his brother, Home Affairs and National Security Minister Hermangild Francis, who followed in his father’s footsteps to become a career police officer, rising to the rank of Deputy Commissioner of Police.
“Our city police have been under tremendous pressure to do the work they are doing without any assistance from the regular police,” Francis said.
The mayor said he took a walk around the city and saw only two reserve police officers on patrol at a time when the city was flooded with tourists being harassed and chased.
“Everything is happening, not one police officer in uniform,” Francis said, deducing that if there was an event or events throughout the country, police officers would be present in full uniform to police the events.
“Is the police force a security company or was it designed to protect the citizens of this country? The money they (the police) are making at these private outings, does it go into the treasury department of government? And why should they be in uniform performing these duties (at private events) when we cannot get one police officer to walk in Marchand, for example?” Francis said.
He said that should there be a private event taking place in Marchand which requires a level of security, police officers in uniform would be seen at the event moonlighting. In the event that something happens higher up the event that needs their attention, it shown no concern since they would be off-duty at the time they are providing security for these events.
“You have police right there running an event and they will refuse to move,” Francis said.
“Today I want to call on the Commissioner of Police to desist from these special duties. Your responsibility is to the citizens of this country. I cannot see the State having an organization to protect the State and then these people (the police) are more interested in protecting people who are partying,” Francis said.
“I’m calling on the Commissioner of Police to desist. His first duty is the security and safety of the citizens and visitors to this country. Our citizens must be safe and secure before you do this extra thing. You cannot do this extra thing and not doing your duty,” Francis said.
He added: “As Mayor of Castries, I will find out whether the Commissioner of Police has the authority to delegate officers in uniform…I am calling on the Commissioner of Police to stop the moonlighting of police across the country and to attend to the security and safety of the citizens of the country.”
Minister for Local Government, Fortuna Belrose, said that perhaps what needs to be done to circumnavigate what the police are accused of is to determine whether more power should be given to security companies, such as the power to arrest.
“Clearly, the burden is on the police because they have the powers to execute what is needed at these events,” she said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Milton Desir, said any officer who performs off-duty appointments must apply to the Commissioner of Police before accepting the request.
“We have an off-duty employment policy. We believe that if these activities have police presence, it is better. The record would show that,” he said, adding that less violence occurs at events when police officers are present.
He explained that before an officer is given permission to work on the side, that officer has to perform his regular tour of duty. The process a police officer has to go through to get permission to do a side job is structured, noted Desir.
Police Commissioner Severin Moncherry is off-island. However, The VOICE learned he will respond to Mayor Francis’ comments upon his return.