THE Royal St. Lucia Police Force yesterday may have issued arguably its most forceful warning to criminals for the year when it warned them against engaging in unlawful activities during New Year celebrations.
Assistant Commissioner of Police, Frances Henry, said the function of the police is to maintain law and order and that it will do so during the three days of activities, which include Asou Square at the Derek Walcott Square and all other approved similar events taking place elsewhere.
She warned that police vigilance and preparedness to counteract criminal activities will not be concentrated in Castries solely, even though their resources will be stretched this weekend and into the coming week, since activities will extend to Tuesday.
“They (the City Police) will be assisting us as well. There will be arrangements where we will be seeing private security also playing a role. Police operations will be in full effect prior to midnight mass which starts at ten (evening time),” Henry said.
She added: “I do not want anybody to believe that we are stationing police officers (in churches) but we will have a presence — whether it is static or whether it is roving. We want St. Lucians to come out and be thankful for the year that has passed and look out for a New Year with promise, a promise for a safer nation.”
She also appealed to the public hoping to patronize Asou Square activities to be mindful of others.
“In retrospect, when we look at 2017, it must be a matter of concern to us the amount of lives we have lost, whether through violent crimes, accidents, etc. We need to let people know that they need to be cautious of their own safety and to be tolerant. We want people to be able to co-exist. In a large crowd, someone may bump into you; it takes nothing to say I am sorry,” Henry said.
“We (the police force) want to make a special appeal. Those persons who have beef with other persons and feel that in particular areas where there is a crowd, where you feel so brazen that you could come there and exact revenge, law and enforcement will be in full effect and I want to be emphatic about that,” she warned.
She added, “If you have beef with anybody, if your intention is to come there for disruption of the activities of any kind, think twice. We will be out in our numbers and the numbers will not just be concentrated at the Asou Square location.”
She also called on persons intending to drink or party hard to ensure that they have a designated driver and should they be unable to have a driver, then they should carpool or simply stay at home.
But criminals are not the only ones police will be playing hardball with. Persons who filed for the necessary permits to host certain events during the next three or four days better have those permits on hand to show police when confronted.
Henry charged that police will be closing down any event for which organizer/s cannot show a permit. She called on event organizers to have such permits in their possession at all times since failing to show such a permit will guarantee the closure of their businesses.
She said that even though approval for the staging of an event has been granted and the permit is still lying at police headquarters because the organizer did not have the time to pick it up, police will still shut down the event. The organizer must show police the permit in order for him/her to remain in business for the next few days.
“Even though you applied and you do not have a permit it means that your activity is not approved. Do not believe that you applied but never followed that you can just take for granted or draw an inference that there is approval. You must have this approval permit in your hand and present it when so requested,” Henry said.