Francois to stay on as Acting Police Chief—for now!

Philip LaCorbiniere, new Minister for Security.

In an interview with the STAR following the official swearing in ceremony of Cabinet, Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony made known that his ministers had decided to extend the appointment of Acting Commissioner Vernon Francois until 15 January 2012 to allow his government some time to resolve the matter amicably and smoothly. Dr Anthony said that a recommendation had been sent to the Public Service Commission to extend the appointment, even when the court ruled against the previous administration to reinstate Ausbert Regis as the Commissioner of Police with immediate effect.
“It would give the government sufficient time to determine two things; first, whether the government will appeal and secondly, to meet with the lawyers to decide how best to approach the judgment,” Anthony said.
In a quick response to curb the rising crime rate in 2010/2011, former prime minister Stephenson King had announced that the then Police Commissioner Ausbert Regis, in May 2010, had been transferred to the post of Director of Initiatives in the Office of the Prime Minister, as part of the restructuring of the police force. But Regis had not taken up the post and his attorneys, Peter Foster of St Lucia and Dominican Queen Counsel Anthony Astaphan, had written to the government requesting his reinstatement as Police Commissioner.
On Monday 21 November, the court ruled in favour of Mr Regis. In her judgment, Justice Wilkinson rendered the transfer of Regis from post of Commissioner to Head of Special Initiatives null and void and ordered his immediate reinstatement as police commissioner.
Speaking with the STAR, newly sworn in Minister of National Security Senator Victor LaCorbiniere shared similar sentiments with the prime minister. “We are a new government and therefore, we need enough time to analyze the situation as it stands with all the parties involved,” said LaCorbiniere. He also indicated that the new government intends to settle the matter to allow for a smooth transition in the police force. When asked whether the government intends to keep Vernon Francois permanently or reinstate Ausbert Regis at the helm of the police force, LaCorbiniere said that that is a decision which cannot be decided upon right now, at least not until the government is fully settled in and has met with all the parties involved.
Commissioner Regis, who has not taken up active duty since the court ruled in his favour, continues up until this story to decline any comment on the case or on his future career plans. “This is a personal matter to me and I would like to keep it this way until everything is settled,” he said.
An insider in the Ministry of National Security expressed his opinion on the matter to the STAR; “I think Vernon Francois is doing a fantastic job and the government should make him permanent in that office,” he said, “As for Ausbert Regis, I don’t think the majority of the police force will be happy if he returns.”
St Lucians were largely concerned with the crime situation in the country and people were essentially satisfied with the recent moves by the previous government and responses of the new leadership of the Police Force to make the country safer for citizens and visitors.

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