Lesser evils cannot afford the truth!

Left to right: Prime Minister Stephenson King, Opposition Leader Kenny Anthony, Janice Compton and former Police Commissioner John Broughton.

Is there anyone in all of Saint Lucia who truly believes the politicians presently campaigning for office have the slightest idea of the enormity of the problems facing our nation, let alone possible solutions? Does the average Saint Lucian have a clue about what it costs each day to operate our two hospitals, our schools, our police force, our fire services and the Bordelais correctional facility? Forget about road repairs and the rest of it. Do we care? Are we aware of what’s happening in the real world and the inevitable consequences on our daily lives?
Can we handle the truth? The once richest countries in the world can no longer afford the luxuries their citizens once took for granted. The United States, Britain, Germany—countries that to a large extent sustain our own excesses via tourism—are all facing economic disasters, with rising unemployment figures at record levels. More and more of their citizens are joining the homeless hordes. Even China has started feeling the strain of the worst economic weather in a hundred years. So, where will our tourism dollars spring from now?
Are we concerned? To judge by our local news reports—nearly all of it political propaganda—not much has changed in our mindset: we suicidally pretend to have no worries; we imagine Saint Lucia is still paradise and that God will take care of us as usual, even as he cares for the not-so-mighty sparrows. No reason just yet to interrupt the carnival; let’s all party like coke-headed rock stars.
Our campaigning politicians, if they have a clue about what’s going on outside their respective poverty-stricken, Tomas-scarred turfs, are in their own selfish interests too busy fueling paradise-island fantasies to care. In any event, why discuss problems for which they have no solutions?
Last week, the big news from Labour Party headquarters centered not only on the ostensible failure of the King government to contain crime but also its deliberate refusal to finance a campaign suggested by John Broughton that the SLP now says would’ve rendered our country next to crime free. Yes, yes, I know: ‘tis the silly season!
Now just in case the name Broughton no longer rings a bell, I offer a sad reminder. Back in 2005, with elections around the corner and Saint Lucia experiencing an unprecedented rate of crime, violent crime in particular, the Kenny Anthony government had imported from the UK a handful of retired police personnel to do for the nation what apparently was beyond commissioner Ausbert Regis and his men. Indeed, whether or not Regis knew it, a quiet official investigation had painted him in discombobulating colors. Saint Lucians would hear the shocking details only after the King government took office, thanks to the minister in charge of security, Keith Mondesir, who blabbed about the secret investigation while being interviewed by Sam Flood.
To hear Mondesir on the occasion, the Kenny Anthony administration had for the purposes of imminent elections kept the result of their investigation under wraps, despite the predictable negative impact on the general population. What’s more, said Mondesir, he planned the next day to send the commissioner on indefinite leave while the more talented Broughton held the fort. Pressed for an explanation, Mondesir’s predecessor Calixte George acknowledged the investigation that according to Mondesir had uncovered “information so damaging. . . that spoke of crime within the police force, including corruption which must be suppressed.”
By George’s account, there was nothing self-serving about his government’s decision not to act on the report. George had personally ordered the shredding of the 360-page report, he said, on the basis that Regis never had the opportunity to defend himself.
“When I read the report,” said George, “I realized it wasn’t what I had in mind. Much of it was defamatory. There were serious allegations without supportive evidence. I ordered that all copies be shredded.” Obviously, his orders had fallen on deaf ears.
But I am ahead of myself. Less than three months after his November 2006 arrival in Saint Lucia, John Broughton had submitted to the new government an assessment of the police force as he had found it. The report is dated 10 January 2007—barely a month after the new UWP administration took office under Sir John Compton, succeeded by until then health minister Stephenson King in September 2007. Undeniably, Broughton’s report underscores why the investment of multi-millions of scarce dollars in local law enforcement has for decades—and under different administrations—been analogous with transporting water in a bottomless bucket to children dying of thirst.
Among Broughton’s chilling observations: There was a general lack of understanding about the core role of the force. Information exchange was weak, minutes not uniformly kept, and individuals at all levels avoided ownership and accountability. Management and supervision, both intrusive and routine, were at many levels weak. Officers at all levels were reluctant to make decisions commensurate with rank. Indiscipline was rampant. The force moved from consultancy report to action plan, from strategy to policies—but with little actual effect on delivery.
There is more: No comprehensive, centrally managed database of the force’s human resources, skills profile, training requirements etc. The force had limited knowledge and understanding of its most valuable asset and an informed deployment strategy was all but impossible to achieve. Officers did not know their job descriptions; as many as a hundred officers performed roles not police-specific. The force was not organized in such a way as to make best use of resources. The force lacked a basic professional central structure that identified best practice.
And this: The Operation Policing Strategies were over-complicated and largely not complied with. While over half the force had been trained in the principles and application since 2002, only a handful of officers practiced any type of community policing. Police officers are issued uniform and shoes. In addition, they are issued replacement uniforms upon authorized requisition. But a great proportion of officers routinely did not wear a uniform. Often they were scruffily attired and not identifiable as police officers. Officers of all ranks spent considerable time in police stations, out of public gaze. Most of them report for duty with little idea what were the current issues and what were the day’s priorities. In some cases they were virtually undirected. Operational communication systems, practices and processes are poor.
And this: Management of 999 calls is outdated an ineffective. Officer training is at best inconsistent and sporadic. The general police response to the armed or otherwise dangerous threat is either an unarmed or fully armed response. There is no less-than-lethal response. There are many examples available to suggest that everything from the storage of police firearms through to training of officers and to ultimate use of firearms by many police officers is not of an acceptable standard.
The force has no dedicated event or contingency planning capability and limited expertise in this area. The SSU is under-utilized. Currently there is no force-wide, strategic or tactical direction in respect of developing intelligence to deal with crime, community and road safety issues. There is no identifiable senior officer who has strategic responsibility for intelligence-led policing . . .
There’s more, but by now you get the message: for nearly ten years Kenny Anthony threw good money at a police force that was never in a position to deliver on public expectations. But just last week, as he had done with reference to the so-called ID-card law, Kenny Anthony sought to blame crime on the King administration, based on what the SLP leader claimed was a 2008 exit report by Broughton.
He conveniently ignored the fact that Broughton’s January 2007 report was based on the situation as had existed for nearly two decades under Kenny Anthony. Instead, he blamed the King government for not having cured all the ills of the force between taking office in September 2007 and Broughton’s departure in October 2008. In other words, what Kenny Anthony did not do in nearly ten years he expected King—recession and all—to do in just one year. Broughton did report certain improvements during the King administration, but that is hardly the point I seek to make—which centers on the further division of a trusting people for selfish purpose.
What must concern this nation in perpetual distress is our unending blame game in which we continue to be losers; all of us. When will we learn that crime cannot successfully be fought by a country at war with itself? When will we learn that crime is an equal-opportunity killer, with no regard for color, whether related to skin or politics? When will we learn that no police force can function effectively without the undivided support of the community?
This account to the US State Department by the American amabassador Mary Kramer following a visit to Saint Lucia to dedicate two SouthCom-constructed projects makes interesting reading: “PM Anthony is an unreliable partner whose commitment to security responsibilities consists of self-congratulation and cosmetic solutions, such as replacing local police commanders with British police officers without ensuring the logistical and political support the law enforcement personnel need. The force’s effectiveness could benefit from the replacement of several individuals in leadership positions but the prime minister has not seen fit to make those changes.”
Actually, the changes were made by the current prime minister Stephenson King. Elsewhere in her report Kramer says: “PM Anthony seems more interested in pontificating on what others should be doing in the international arena than in becoming a responsible leader at home!”
The silly season will pass. But will we survive the divisive fall-out? Consider this recent public statement by Janice Compton, of all people, concerning her daughter Jeannine. It was delivered recently from a political platform in the area that her husband represented in parliament throughout his political career that spanned almost half a century. I’m talking about Micoud, next to Canaries-Anse la Raye, locally famous as Saint Lucia’s most neglected constituency. At any rate, during the time John Compton was prime minister and minister of finance.
On the occasion the widow Compton’s tone was that of desperation. Clearly, she set out to imitate “Quashie,” her long ago invented pejorative for the ordinary man and woman: “She didn’t have to come and run for Micoud North. But she did it out of love for her father and what he wanted to do for Micoud North.”
Wanted to do what? When? The widow goes on: “When he was sick he asked Guy Joseph to build a bus shelter for the people of Patience. And one day he called Spider and asked him to come and see me on your way to work. He said to him, Can you please ask Guy Joseph to build that bus shelter for the people at La Pointe and Patience? And Spider said to him: ‘That’s all you asking for?’ Did they do it? No. That is the sort of respect they had for a man who came out of retirement and help them to win the last elections. You all did not respect John Compton. Not on that last day when you all told him to get out. But John Compton come back to deal with them, one by one. He will deal with them one by one.”
She ended by reminding the current prime minister that his father first came to Saint Lucia as a cook
aboard a Mailings Compton boat.
A quick reality check: Did the Canouan-born John Compton come out of retirement for the purposes of King, Bousquet, Guy Joseph, Richard Frederick and the rest of the present incumbents? Or did he return because he couldn’t risk dying as a regular citizen? Was he really worried—as was mindlessly bruited about—that he could not trust Kenny Anthony to respect his right to a state funeral? After all, Kenny Anthony had himself stated his loss of respect for Sir John upon his coming
out of retirement—and his decision to quit referring to the former prime minister as Sir!
For the record: when Sir John announced his return to politics, Frederick, Joseph, Ezekiel and most of the current incumbents had not yet indicated their intention even to contest the 2006 elections, let alone join the then comatose UWP. Indeed, King would eventually have to fight Cybelle Cenac for his chance to represent his Castries North constituency. Compton made his solo raid when UWP polls indicated he was far more popular that their hapless leader Vaughan Lewis.
Did Janice Compton, Jeannine too, not know at the time that Sir John’s health and age added up to a major concern? Did his medical records not so indicate? Clearly, many other people worried that he may have bitten off more than he could chew.  But Sir John, having easily replaced Lewis, assured the doubters that being prime minister for the eighth time was hardly as demanding as being an Olympic runner. A joke? Maybe. But a joke that would soon turn deadly serious. Sir John later handpicked the men with whom he contested the 2006 elections, including Richard Frederick after he easily disposed of the sitting attorney general Phillip LaCorbiniere in the Castries Central by-election—as an independent!
As for Sir John’s ever-loving daughter: Did she not hook up with Frederick & Company after they allegedly caused her father’s passing? Did she and her Mom not dance with the devils on their devils’ platform? What about
all that other stuff concerning their unkept promises to Sir John? But then, as they say, truth is always the first casualty of war. Hopefully, our country will not be the second!

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