Acting Decisively to Protect Us All

The escalating crime situation in Saint Lucia has gone from bad to worse. With a murder rate exceeding six per month last year and continuing this year, the statistics paint a grim picture. Finding effective solutions to the bloodshed staining the streets seems elusive, despite the authorities’ stated efforts to curb the violence.

Appeals to the criminal elements from both Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre, who also serves as the country’s National Security Minister, and the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) have seemingly fallen on deaf ears. Strong messages directed at criminals from both the Prime Minister’s Office and the RSLPF fail to deter those intent on committing criminal acts.

In February of this year, the prime minister emphasized that he has allocated more resources to the police force than the previous government did over the last five years. According to him, the police have all the necessary powers to address the situation within the bounds of the law. Does the prime minister wish us to draw the conclusion that the police are incompetent?

The urgency of finding effective solutions to the ongoing bloodshed in Saint Lucia cannot be overstated. The violence occurs even in broad daylight, posing a serious threat to public safety. We must prevent our main tourist suppliers, such as North America and Europe, from issuing travel advisories due to heightened criminal activity on the island. Such advisories could deal a severe blow to our tourism industry, which is the lifeblood of Saint Lucia’s economy.

It is crucial to recognize that combating serious crime on the island requires a robust approach. We advocate for a return of the Regional Security System to help manage trouble spots across the country. But there must be a plan. The RSS cannot stay here forever.

We are also advocating round-the-clock police patrols to enhance security and deter criminal activity.

Engaging civil society (including the opposition) and business leaders to brainstorm possible solutions to the problem should long since have taken place.

We must also not overlook strategies and initiatives that have worked in the past to lower the rate of serious crime in the country. And Operation Restore Confidence comes to mind.

The fact is this strategy worked. We have no problem if another of its kind is introduced but managed differently.

We support the installation of CCTV cameras in locations across the island, the deployment of drones and finger-printing apparatus to improve the capabilities of the police.

Let us not forget former Deputy Speaker Jeremiah Norbert who now holds the portfolio of Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with Responsibility for Crime Prevention and Persons with Disabilities.

Many are looking to him to come up with ideas, concepts, viewpoints, etc., on how he intends to deal with this scourge that is tearing away at the social and economic underbelly of Saint Lucia.

By government saying loudly and frequently that “the police have all the powers within the law to bring an end to the situation,” is simply not enough.

Minister Norbert has a tremendous responsibility to the people of this country in being the front man to stop the crime monster. How he fares sooner, rather than later, could make all the difference in the fight against the crime scourge.

In tackling the crime crisis, a multifaceted approach that combines law enforcement, community engagement, and resource allocation is crucial. The collective efforts of government agencies, civil society, and citizens will play a pivotal role in restoring safety and security to the island. Let us all act collectively and decisively to protect our beloved Fair Helen.

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