Francois reacts to being named STAR Person of the Year

Acting Police Commissioner Vernon Francois says he would like to see some stability within the force.

Who more appropriate for “STAR Person of the Year” than man on a mission Vernon Francois? He’s been through the worst of it ever since stepping into the shoes of acting police commissioner in May 2010.
Francois replaced police commissioner Ausbert Regis who was transferred but has been on extended sick leave. Regis had sued the government following his transfer and it was announced last November that the courts found in his favour and he was to be returned as police commissioner. Regis is currently on vacation until January 15.
Alas, there’s finally an end in sight to all the drama, but various aspects of the situation remain uncertain, including the question of whether Vernon Francois’s contract for the commissioner post will be renewed upon expiry on Sunday, January 15.
“Since it falls on a Sunday I might have to go to church and pray about it,” Francois said half jokingly when the STAR spoke to him this week to get his reaction on being named this newspaper’s Person of the Year 2011. On a more serious note the acting commissioner added: “I anticipate during the course of this week or next week some decision would be made. I don’t want to preempt anything.”
Francois’ acting post spanned three six month stints and the most recent renewal to his post was made on December 1 to last until January 15. Speaking to this reporter this week Francois was more concerned about the effect of uncertainties on the force than he was about anything else.
“Every time it’s up for renewal it creates this period of uncertainly within the department,” he explained. “There’s never any certainly as to what exactly is going to happen. People are not really settled. For me, it doesn’t bother me too much. I try to do this job one day at a time. I think even if I’m in it for two more days I’d do my very best and do what I have to do in the two days I’m there. I’ve learned in the public service don’t get too comfortable, particularly in the higher level because at any time anything can happen. I think I’m providing a service and if someone says at the end of the day my service is no longer required, I’d find something else to do.”
On the lighter side, when asked how he felt about being named the STAR’s Person of the Year Francois felt it was an accolade more deserving of the police force itself than of him as an individual.
“I think it was a good thing for me but more importantly I think it’s even more so for the police department and the appreciation shown by the STAR newspaper and public generally for the police department,” he said.
“Notwithstanding the leadership I provide I think if the officers weren’t out there doing what they’re supposed to do none of the results would have been achieved. I think a lot of credit should go to the officers who did the bulk of the work and I think it’s a good thing for me and the police department.”
Francois says he never expected to be named Man of the Year and though he feels the special acknowledgement is “not really what you work for,” he expressed: “I think it shows there is some value to hard work and other people can appreciate what you do. I do my work to try to make St Lucia a better place, not for what comes along with it. My job really is to work toward improving safety and security in St Lucia. It’s really for other people to recognize you’re doing a good job.
“Someone called me and my phone started ringing off the hook throughout the course of Saturday morning,” he retold. “I have a newspaper subscription that I normally get in the afternoon. People kept calling me, congratulating me, some felt I really deserved it.”
Speaking in depth about his reaction to the much-anticipated revelation of “STAR Person of the Year” Francois commented: “When I saw it I thought the photo was a great one. In no time my 15-year-old and 21-year-old daughters had photos of the newspaper on their BlackBerry Messenger. It became their profile photos, if only for a little while anyway. It’s a good feeling that your kids see you’ve achieved something. As for St Lucians in general, it’s not usual for people to say many nice things about the police, particularly the police commissioner.”
So what next for the ‘super nova’ acting commissioner in the event that his post isn’t renewed?
“I think I’m sufficiently marketable,” Francois asserted. “The truth of the matter is I’m the confirmed deputy of police and a grade 19 public servant. I suppose I can still contribute within the police force as deputy commissioner. If that service too is not required then I think I’m sufficiently marketable. I have experience in law enforcement, academic qualifications and I’m in the process of finalizing my master’s degree—it’s a matter of exercising options. It’s good to leave when you’re on a high and thanks to the STAR and other people I think I’m on a high at the moment.”

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