The issues surrounding the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force, following the fallout from IMPACS, continue to haunt not just the RSLPF but the government that itself facilitated the investigation leading to the “damning” IMPACS report. RSL’s Shelton Daniel on Friday referred to IMPACS as a double-edged sword, but it would appear to be more like the sword of Damocles over the heads of the government that is supposed to be representing the best interests of all the people, including the police.
On Tuesday the Police Welfare Association, headed by Camron Laure, presented a report of its own. And while the PWA president did not label his report “damning,” it was loaded with questions about the legality of the IMPACS investigation as well as the role of the governor general in matters involving the police.
According to Laure, members of the PWA met on Friday October 2 in an effort to remedy “the issues that confront us.” Some of the issues, he said, related to “the security of the workplace for officers, discrimination particularly of members who are gay, bisexual or lesbian, a change in the election process, the role of the governor general as it relates to the Police Act and the commissioner of police, and promoting unity and morale of members.”
According to Laure the role of the governor general, in relation to Section 7 of the Police Act, was raised at the meeting and subsequently a resolution was passed to write to the GG with reference to the Act as it relates to the commissioner of police.
The Act reads: “There shall be a commissioner of police who shall have command of superintendents of the force and shall be responsible to the Governor General for the efficient administration and government of the force and for the proper expenditure of all public monies appropriated for the service thereof.”
Laure added: “We, the Police Welfare Association, believe this section of the Police Act should be highlighted and it should be brought to the attention, not just to the Governor General, but all members of the RSLPF.”
The issue of allegations by talk show host Claudius Francis—that there are members of the RSLPF who ‘had it in’ for the prime minister and the government—was also raised on Tuesday. “The issue about the plot to use AIMU checks to embarrass the prime minister was also discussed at our meeting,” said Laure. “The prime minister has said he is aware of the plan. These allegations should not go uninvestigated.”
On the other hand: “My own inquiries revealed the investigators found no checks.” Further, Laure said it was not the practice for an investigator to inform the commissioner of police of warrants to be executed during an investigation.
Laure asserted that the prime minister’s address on the IMPACS report continues to plague members of his association, particularly members who had participated in Operation Restore Confidence. As if that were not sufficient burden, Laure suggested, “Senior members of the force are also being blocked for promotions. One sergeant went through the process and was successful. Now we are being told that questions of his promotions are being asked from the home affairs ministry.”
Contrary to the prime minister’s assertion, Laure said there was never a death list. According to the PWA prez, a meeting was called by the police hierarchy after a group of dangerous criminals was detained at the Anse La Raye police station and treated like first offenders. Gazetted officers of the major crime unit had later put together pictures and details of the nation’s most dangerous criminals, for purposes of identification, Laure said. He showed members of the press what he said was an original copy of the stapled pages of pictures of certain individuals, each appropriately identified.
He added: “Several copies were made available to gazetted officers. This information was given IMPACS investigators but was ignored. There was never a death list.”
“So what else did the investigators get wrong?” Laure asked as he went on to raise issues with the legality of the IMPACS investigation. Section 19 of the Police Complaints Act referred to by the PWA prez makes provision for complaints against the police to be made in a prescribed form: “…Where the commission receives a complaint under subsection 1 the commission shall give a certified copy to the person making the complaint and where the complaint relates to a fatality or criminal conduct, the commission shall send a copy to the DPP.”
“Was section 19 of the Complaints Act complied with? If so, who was the complainant?” Laure asked. More questions from Laure: If the police are being accused by the executive of doing wrong, should the executive be appointing and supervising investigations? Should those independent investigators be reporting to the minister as the amendment mandates? Will or can the investigators be fair when our accusers are the very ones who accuse appoint, investigate, oversee, supervise and present the findings of those investigations? According to the PWA members, an investigation of this construct can never be fair.
Laure also stated that he is not aware of any official complaints made against police officers or the special task force following Operation Restore Confidence. On the question of the allegations made by Francis and supported by the prime minister, he said that no decision was taken to write to the prime minister. “We have written to the governor general to stress on the importance of her role in overseeing the police,” Laure stressed.
“The Ministry of Home Affairs must also decease from what it seems is the unlawful persecution and victimization of members. And I would like to say, I speak for all members of the police force irrespective of rank,” Laure said emphatically.