How many more must die?

The prime directive of the police is the protection of life. The right to life is the most important guarantee of any constitution. Without life we have nothing. Life is a gift from God and individually and collectively we must do all in our power to cherish, preserve and protect life.

In Genesis chapter 4 starting at verse 9, the first murder investigation is recorded. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground . . .”

Is the cry of the blood of the thirty humans murdered so far this year being heard by anyone? Is the cry of the blood of twenty five dead victims of road accidents crying out to anyone? Is the blood of the humans shot by police crying out to anyone? What about the blood of Verlinda, Giselle, Dr Monrose, and the young boy who fell off the high chair?

Let’s face it fellow Saint Lucians we do not care! We express concern for 15 minutes, call ‘What Makes Me Mad’, ‘Straight Up’, ‘NewsSpin’, even ‘TALK’ and sit quietly with bated breath hoping that the next victim is not our brother. We excuse our inaction by claiming that we are not our brother’s keeper.

Sometimes I think it is good that we are an uncaring, heartless, unloving bunch. If we did care we would breed vigilantes who would take the law into their own hands in outrage because what passes for a police force is not up to the job. The police presence is not even a deterrent.

The political directorate’s respect for life, the life for the people they have sworn to serve is mirrored in the way it maintains and administers the police force. Firstly, the police force is not structured to carry out its prime directive of protecting life. The government maintains the principal law enforcement agency with the top man acting, there is no deputy on staff and the majority of senior posts are staffed by persons who are acting.

The Attorney General, the chief law enforcement officer, is quoted saying that there is nothing wrong with having actors in the administrative and management positions of the force. I would suggest to him that being an ‘actor’ implies that one is not quite up to the job. How then could one demand accountability and efficiency of an actor? After all he is only acting!

In response to the charge that it is uncaring, the government may point to the fact that it has instituted a crime commission, built new police stations, supplied vehicles, increased training, and manpower for the police. I agree, that lots of resources have been diverted to the war on crime but government should realise that it is in the same boat as the Bush Administration in its war on terror in Iraq. The plan is not working, and you can stubbornly keep pouring money and resources into it but you will not get the desired result. You must rethink your approach.

“I see dead people.” Yes, Saint Lucia, many more of our young people will die. In gang wars, as a result of senseless violence, as victims of drunk driving, drive-by shootings, suicides and at the hands of police. Three months ago a young man, his girlfriend and his sister mounted a motor cycle and rode into the path of an overtaking vehicle right into oblivion. Is it fair to blame the police for these deaths? Let me answer with another question, ‘If the trio feared police intervention, would they have been riding in such a manner on a highway in the North?’

Motorists openly drink and drive, overtake dangerously, drive uninsured vehicles, blind each other at nights and break the road traffic laws with impunity yet the responsible agency takes no action. I guess it is part of our culture.

The public service is packed with functionaries who hide behind politicians whose only concern is a return to power in the next election. These politicians try to steal the thunder of efficient public servants, but when you lift a stick you pick up both the sharp and messy ends. We have unsafe and dangerous roads, that put our lives at risk—who is accountable? Surely, not the minister of communications and works. The accountable person is the Chief Engineer responsible for roads. He or she is the one collecting the pay packet. He should face the public and tell us why the roads are in such a mess. If the emergency ward at the Victoria Hospital has replaced the mortuary, then the Hospital Administrator should tell us why he is still drawing a pay packet. Similarly, the responsible officer in the police force should be held accountable when road fatalities keep escalating. Responsible public servants must be held accountable and accountability should reach the very top. How many more must die before we demand accountability!

—Martin Carasco

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