In the midst of another shooting death for the second consecutive weekend, Prime Minister Philip J Pierre stated that government intends to move “systematically” and is working to improve matters for the police as the country continues to wage a war on crime.
Speaking on the sidelines of Monday’s cabinet meeting, he said, measures are in place to supply the police with more mobile patrol and put more boots on the ground.
The National Security Minister related to efforts being made to nullify incessant criminal activity in the country, against the backdrop of outside military assistance provided by the Regional Security System [RSS] to help local law enforcement officers battle crime.
He noted that the current administration inherited a myriad of problems affecting the police when they assumed office about two years ago.
“We are systematically working on improving the environment for the police (including) the passport situation …and right now we are working on improving the infrastructure and that was before our time,” declared PM Pierre.
“Some of the issues that seem to be raising their ugly head is the situation that we inherited and we are working on it,” said the national security minister.
“There is tangible proof that we are working …next week, the police are going to be getting about six motor cycles,” he disclosed. “We‘ve increased the man power with the RSS. There are issues as it relates to their (police officers) physical wellbeing and their numbers, and so, we are in the process of recruiting new police officers.”
Lately, the Royal St Lucia Police Force [RSLPF], Police Welfare Association (PWA) has raised some issues pertaining to the overall welfare, protection and stability of the unit and its members. An issue of note, relates to the matter of sexual harassment in the work place.
At a recent symposium involving regional police federations, the issue of sexual harassment was singled out. Consequently, there are plans for the establishment of a Sexual Harassment Policy for women in the protective services.
Another issue dealt with the number of hours that police officers work and providing psyscho-social support for officers and members of the protective services throughout the region.
Pierre stated that his task involves the delivery of policy guidelines, finances and “to provide an enabling environment for the police to operate from”.
In terms of the sexual harassment issue, he said, “the police has to sit down and prepare a Sexual Harassment Policy…a policy that has got to be ratified and has got to be followed up after the ratification.”
The prime minister strongly condemns the act of sexual harassment in the work place, and not just in the police force “but (within) anywhere and with any employees both in the private and public sector. There ought not to be any sexual harassment …we do not want the Police Welfare Association to get involved in matters that are on the boundaries of political (issues)”.
He said the PWA should represent the interest of its membership and “our job is to provide an enabling environment.”
Pierre referred to construction works for a new Gros Islet Police station, the Vieux Fort Police station and the reconstruction of a Custody Suites as some of the pressing matters taken up to upgrade the services of the island’s law enforcement officers .
The national security minister noted, “We have given the police over 20 vehicles …and we are dealing with the points that lead to promotion. So, I would like the Police Welfare Association to understand that’s a work in progress.”
He appealed to the PWA to be patient and “let’s dialogue, let’s continue to work together for the enhancement of the police service and Saint Lucia, generally.
Added Pierre: “We are doing things for the police in a systematic way …and I would like the Police Welfare Association (PWA) to be patient and understand that the world did not start on 21st July (2021).”