Let’s give it to the Prime Minister. Last week he took us by surprise when he told reporters there is an urgent need for the police to review their tactics.
On the surface, this seems to be the natural thing to say amidst a public outcry that police are not effective in stopping the wave of gun crimes in the country. Further, that the quick response from the police in handling the escalating crime situation in the country is not quick enough.
The Prime Minister also said, while reaffirming his government’s commitment to provide the necessary support to the police in their fight against crime, that the crime situation in the country is serious and requires stern and appropriate action.
Said Prime Minister Pierre to reporters last week, “There were two murders over the weekend, and I must say that the police will have to (review) their tactics. What they’re doing is obviously not working.”
He declared: “I think the police will now have to go back to the drawing board and rethink their tactics and look at ways and means in which they could stop that scourge.”
Pierre also said that he is no expert on criminal matters and police operational procedures, and that his role as National Security Minister is to make resources and vehicles available to the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force
The National Security portfolio is that of the Prime Minister. Therefore, by saying that the police will now have to go back to the drawing board with respect to handling the crime situation on island, equates to him also saying that after one year in office, his administration’s policies on crime, particularly on gun crimes, have failed.
Before we go further, let’s understand that words have meanings and stir the thought process, therefore, when the leader of a country speaks, he/she is expected to speak in a manner that is clear, concise and unambiguous so that he/she will not be misunderstood.
Therefore, we take Prime Minister Pierre’s words to fall squarely in that context: clear, concise, unambiguous.
Prime Minister Pierre is responsible for National Security. He meets with the Police Commissioner or/and other members of the police hierarchy regularly. Those meetings are for the purposes of discussing police operations, mapping out strategic, proactive and preventative responses to the crime situation on island.
Those meetings are also to devise strategies for the security of the island’s citizens. Since attaining power in July of last year, Pierre, as National Security Minister, has attended such meetings. Therefore, for him to say police must go back to the drawing board and rethink their tactics on crime fighting, also means that his administration’s policies on crime fighting have failed as well, because at those meetings, not only would ideas have been exchanged, but the government’s policy would have been laid down.
We do not want to believe these meetings accomplished nothing regarding national security.
On the flip side, Pierre is sending the police back to the drawing board one year after assuming the national security portfolio. Are we to assume that prior to winning the July 2021 general election, he was unaware of the police shortfalls in dealing with serious gun crimes?
The record shows that Pierre and his political party had much to say about the crime situation when he was in opposition. Therefore, it is safe to say he had more than a fair knowledge about the crime situation on island on assuming the national security portfolio.
If, after one year steering the supertanker called Saint Lucia, Pierre is already admitting failure in doing the single most important job in government – that of securing the safety of citizens, what hope do citizens have in feeling safe in their own country with the four remaining years of governance under Pierre’s leadership?
The question is a valid one considering the responsibilities of a National Security Minister, which is not only to defend, but also to protect and guard the national and territorial Sovereignty and integrity of Saint Lucia and all who reside in her.
Make no mistake, serious (violent) crime, like what we have been experiencing of late all over the country, is a threat to national security.
We do not have the space in this column to explain in detail how serious crime is a menace or a danger to this country.
However, we can explain, in brief, that the Ministry of National Security is the government entity charged with ensuring the public security of Saint Lucia. Further, that the Ministry for National Security oversees the implementation of the areas of responsibility that fall under the portfolio of the Minister of National Security.
Granted, law enforcement, like the police force, falls under the Ministry of Home Affairs. However, this does not mean that the police force, which is responsible in part for citizen safety, is beyond the scope of the Ministry for National Security. The operations of the police force straddle both ministries.
As has been stressed many times by politicians holding the reins of power, the Government of Saint Lucia places high priority on public safety and national security, indicative of the significant allocation made to the ministry each year in the national budget, and the equipment and training provided to the police force on a regular basis.
Knowing that Prime Minister Pierre has policy oversight for the major agencies in the country that are responsible for ensuring law and order, defence and corrections, it is befuddling to hear him make comments like the aforementioned.