TODAY we single out the members of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force, not to upbraid them, as we have done in the past, but to compliment them on what appears to be a concerted, collaborative effort, on their part, to rid the country of illegal firearms and the criminals who wield these arms to instill fear and cause mayhem in communities across the country.
Almost every week we see evidence of different units in the Force working together to capture those who are involved in gun related crimes in the country, and guns and ammunition being seized. What happens when those criminals are arraigned in a court of law is a different story, however the mere fact that they are caught, their weapons and ammunitions confiscated and they are placed before a judge or magistrate to face the music, for their acts of murder, intimidation and mayhem, is gratifying indeed.
We recognise that the members of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force are the constituted body of persons empowered by the State of Saint Lucia to enforce the law, to ensure the safety, wellbeing , and possessions of the citizens, and to prevent crime and civil disorder. They are clothed with lawful powers to arrest and to use legitimate force to curb violence and violent individuals; we are also aware they have not had it easy with Saint Lucians over the years. A love/hate relationship exists that has seen the police conducting several initiatives to improve their relationship with the local communities.
This strategy of policing that focuses on developing relations with members of the local communities, has had some setbacks caused by the actions of some police officers, to the point where advances gained in community trust has been eroded, forcing the police force to reconsider, reshape or tweak their strategy to improve its relationship with the community at large.
Further, this year, the police force appears to be bent on not underrating the importance of developing partnerships with citizens to bring about effective policing. We see effort on the part of the police force to identify and solve problems and anti-social behaviour within communities. We call on them to continue the work despite the level of difficulty associated with it.
We sincerely hope that the successes the police force has been chalking up in its efforts to reduce serious crimes on island, and the speed in which these successes are being registered, will help in closing the gap that exists between itself and the communities they serve.
This show of speediness in arresting and charging persons for acts of criminality is invaluable in creating the partnerships needed between the police, members, leaders and organisations of the community.
Such partnerships bring law enforcers in the community, a sure deterrent to would be criminals wanting to engage in a criminal act.
But while we applaud the police force on their determination to bring gun-toting criminals to justice and clear the island of illegal guns, we want to remind them of the need to pay attention to what transpires on our roads. Proper management of vehicular traffic within the City of Castries and the corridor linking Castries to Gros Islet is severely lacking.
Over the past few days, road management of the aforementioned areas has descended to horrendous levels as everyone, it seems, drives for himself or herself without thought of the other motorists who use the very same roads. Such awful driving usually results in vehicular accidents occurring in areas where they ought not to occur.
We call on the entire Saint Lucian community to join hands with the men and women of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force to end or significantly reduce violent crime in country. By doing so we simultaneously build trust between the police and the community.
We remind Saint Lucians that police performing their duties does not equate to police alienating the community as this will only increase crime in already troubled neighbourhoods, something all of us, including the police, do not want to happen.