On Thursday this week the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force convened a press conference to update the media on crime stats and other recent matters involving the force. At the head table were four officers, all unconfirmed in their positions: acting police commissioner Errol Alexander, ACPs O’Brien, Milton Desir (with responsibility for crime) and Pelius (in charge of territorial policing). Conspicuously missing in action were acting deputy police commissioners Moncherry and Frances Henry. The last mentioned is on leave until May 2016.
Following a power point presentation on the crime statistics by officer Rene of the CIU, the press was invited to solicit responses to various questions. But first Alexander cautioned the media about focusing on such negativism as instilled fear in the public mind.
The proffered police crime stats for January to September reflect a decrease in “reported crime” compared to the same period last year. There has also been a two per cent increase in crime detection. Summary offences, property crimes and offences against the person accounted for 95% of all reported crimes.
There has also been a 16 per cent reduction in homicides: in 2014 twenty-five were recorded between January and September; this year there have been twenty-one. There were also two police shootings last year but only one in 2015.
The good news notwithstanding, there was hardly a reporter present who didn’t want to hear the latest on the IMPACS Report. “This still remains an issue,” said Alexander, “and as long as police officers are not clear about what is going on, there will be unease. I can tell you I have not seen the report and cannot speak to what is in it.”
He added: “The force needs strong leadership. Everybody knows that and that is what I am trying to provide right now.”
When he had confirmed his retirement next year, Alexander was asked whether he had applied for the advertised post of police commissioner. For that he had a two-word response: “That’s personal.”
Pressed by reporters, he went on: “I do not want to prejudice the whole recruitment process for the commissioner for the RSLPF. The thing I have been saying, and I am saying, is I have worked with three police commissioners and when they leave, policies are discontinued. And it has to do with a lot of variables.”
Moreover: “There is no scientific evidence that an outside commissioner would do a better job. While I was in Jamaica, the island’s commissioner and I discussed the subject. He is now doing research for a book and I am hoping that by the end of the year we will have some scientific evidence in relation to this.”
Q: Commissioner you mentioned you were out for a while but while you were out there were allegations by the prime minister that certain police officers were conspiring to bring down the government. What is the status of the investigations that the prime minister promised the nation?
Alexander: Well, you ask me where the investigation is going. I don’t know whether there is any investigation being carried out because I was out of island and when you ask where the investigation stands at this time I cannot say. The only thing I can tell you is that I think the prime minister and myself, in all honesty, had a frank conversation on the way forward with respect to the allegations when I came back and our discussions are on-going . . . not he and myself alone but with my entire executive . . . our discussions are on-going. As acting commissioner, I consider this a very, very, very serious allegation against police. We are not responsible to take out governments and we are not responsible to put them in. They have to go through the democratic process. That is why it is important to clear this up and to know the circumstances in relation to those allegations.
Q. Does that mean an investigation is underway?
Alexander: I do not know anything about such an investigation. What’s on-going is discussion.
Q. I am a little confused. You deemed the allegations serious. Yet you are talking about discussions a month after these serious allegations were made. If you deem the allegations serious, then why not an investigation? Claudius Francis claimed to have supportive evidence. The prime minister himself corroborated all he said. Has there been any effort on the part of the police to get to the bottom of this alleged bringing down of the government?
Alexander: We have to be careful how we tread in these circumstances. And the reason why I say this is because
allegations were made against the RSLPF and we don’t know at what level it stops. It may stop at my level. And it would not have been justified for us, for myself, as the acting commissioner of police, to assign an investigator from within the police force to look into such allegations. We do not have the information as such. The other thing about it is that you have to understand that throughout the whole investigative process you need a complainant. Yes, we can do the investigation, but we need to start off somewhere. Now from my standpoint, I would prefer an external body to investigate this. It is a ticklish matter. I have no authority to solicit an investigator from outside.
Q. You said for an investigation to take place there has to be a complainant. Has there been a complainant?
Alexander: I will not answer this.
Q. But why, in light of all of the talk about this matter being so serious?
Alexander: I would rather not answer at this time!