The St Lucia Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture met with acting commissioner of police, Vernon Francois on the morning of December 29 to discuss the decision of the Royal St Lucia Police Force to regularize and manage more effectively the special duty regime in operation at the institution. Members of the St Lucia Chamber of Commerce regularly utilize the services of off duty police officers to bolster the regular security forces, which they employ.
The two parties agreed that it was necessary that the system be managed effectively so that the off duty work, which some policemen engage in, does not affect the ability of the Royal St Lucia Police Force to deploy and conduct regular policing work. At the same time it was agreed that the new system should not compromise the security of businesses, staff and customers. In that regard the commissioner outlined the procedure and process, which will be followed in approving special duty assignments.
Of key concern to both parties was the need for the police force to operate effectively and efficiently as such special duty assignments should not compromise the performance of regular police work. It was agreed that the police regulations must be followed and all police officers interested in performing special duty must seek and get approval from the commissioner prior to engaging in special duty work. The parties agreed that the proper scheduling of officers to permit the force to effectively carry out its policing role was paramount and it was around this that special duty should be approved and take place. The importance of special duty income to the welfare of police officers was also recognized.
A number of ancillary issues were discussed including the need for the government to activate the private security Act No. 28 of 2006. Discussions were also held on the recent approval granted by Cabinet for the re-instatement of the special reserve police unit. The commissioner also shared the plan for the police to help train special constables to be employed in areas where police officers are currently engaged but those functions can be carried out by non-police officers just as effectively. This would make more officers available to the force for deployment.
The two parties agreed that the chamber would advise its members who need to use the services of off-duty police officers to encourage these officers to apply for permission from the commissioners’ office before January, 4 2010, so that the necessary approval can be granted. The commissioner also indicated that nothing would be done to compromise the security of business.
The commissioner also agreed to be available to address the members of the St Lucia Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture at an executive luncheon early in the New Year, since he had not been able to make a planned address at the Chamber’s 126th Annual General Meeting in November 2010. The two parties agreed to continue to meet regularly and to work more closely in the area of law and order.