Government officials as well as the police hierarchy, have called for a measure of ‘collective response’ to combat the atrocities of crime committed on the island in the wake of the recent shooting death of an off-duty police officer.
The grizzly killing of a law enforcement officer and serious injury to his working partner, last weekend, also a police officer, has elicited an impassionate plea from the country’s leaders for citizens to be more mindful of the times that they are living in and to help offset and negate the disturbing ploys employed by criminal elements, as these characters desperately seek to acquire ill-gotten gains.
Prime Minister Philip Pierre, on Monday, reiterated the government’s commitment to providing law enforcement officers with the requisite tools and resources to combat the escalating scourge of crime in the country, in the wake of this latest homicide.
He noted that a ‘collective response’ involving the police and the public can leave criminals isolated and more vulnerable to law enforcement efforts.
“This situation has arisen for a long time now, it has manifested itself now …and then we have to find ways collectively to deal with that situation,” Pierre asserted.
The prime minister said the crime situation requires more than just playing the “blame game”. He explained that the government provided the resources within its fiscal ability “to see what it can do …and it’s the police force to develop strategic responses to crime.”
Pierre who is also the National Security Minister listed his government’s support for the police with the provision of resources, such as transportation, training, and upgrading the forensic lab.
Police have reported a total of at least 14 homicides, within the last 17 weeks.
Reports state that PC Nathan Timaitre and his colleague SPC Isaac “King” Calvin were ambushed and gunned down by a group of four masked bandits as they provided security services for a business owner, at Bocage, last Saturday evening. The off-duty officers were engaged in a cash escort when shooters ambushed them at Bocage, Castries, killing Timaitre, while Calvin remains in critical condition at the EU Hospital.
Police to date have arrested six individuals in respect of the incident.
In an effort to gain a handle on the escalating crime scene, the prime minister told reporters, “All options are open,” when questioned about international intervention to assist local crime-fighting.
He described the Bocage incident as a sad day in this country, stating that the message is that violence is unacceptable.
“We have to do whatever we can to avoid the scourge of violence afflicting our country,” noted the Castries East Member of Parliament.
Pierre noted that the country has been wary of this incessant and distressing crime situation for a long time, and warned against playing the blame game.
“We have to be calm, we have to be resolute, we have to fight the criminality together,” he asserted.
“Criminality at all levels, at the level of corruption, at the level of situations where people do not speak the truth – we have to get all these situations under control,” the PM noted.
“Criminality in all aspects is horrible and what’s happening now where there’s a loss of life and property cannot be tolerated,” he told reporters.
In this regard, Pierre urged everyone to get together to deal with the scourge of crime.
While stating that law enforcement officers were awaiting further details on this latest incident, Police Commissioner Milton Desir described this gruesome act “as a sad feeling for the force” as they continue to receive overwhelming support and sympathies from the public.
Responding to queries regarding ‘stepping up’ the operations of the Royal St Lucia Police Force [RSLPF] to deal with criminals, Desir said: “We have been putting things in place …and we need to heighten security for the state, but however what happened there if, at all anybody was not concerned, they need to be concerned now.”
Speaking to reporters, on Monday, Home Affairs Minister Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte appealed for a ‘united front’, to tackle the very strong message being sent out by the criminals.
“I think that is a very strong message that the criminals are sending to the citizens and the government of Saint Lucia and we have to get our act together, come as a united force to deal with the criminal situation,” declared the Babonneau representative in parliament.
The minister expressed deep concern in the aftermath of this latest incident, which she described as a sad situation while extending sympathies to the officers’ families and the RSLPF.
While awaiting details regarding the incident, the minister asserted: “It is a clear indication that there are no borders, no boundaries for criminals. I don’t think any of us will feel safe or protected unless all of us come together as one society to combat crime.”
She reiterated previous assertions that citizens have a significant role in supporting the police.
Albert-Poyotte also spoke of the need to achieve greater sophistication in using technology to advance the battle against crime.