The nation could hardly believe its ears that morning several years ago, after it leaked that someone had actually burgled police headquarters at Bridge Street, Castries and made off with a safe only Hercules might on his own have lifted. Yes, a safe. Made of iron. The heist had generated much public speculation: an inside job? Did the safe house documents related to a particular government official or criminal? Did someone tip off cat burglars about de monee just waiting to be picked up?
The names of at least two policemen were bandied around. There were also salacious stories about a top male officer and a female colleague. Particularly perplexing is that the matter was never resolved and might’ve remained forgotten but for the latest memory-jogging shocking incident involving the beleaguered Royal Saint Lucia Police Force.
Then there was the unreported break-in about two years ago, again at police headquarters. This time the intruders concentrated their efforts on a particular filing cabinet that contained records of business transactions involving two high profile politicians generally considered mortal enemies. No one in his or her right mind would’ve considered inviting the perceived warring duo to dine at the same restaurant, let alone at the same dinner table. According to my sources, the one file lifted from the cabinet later resurfaced—but without the business-related papers. As with the previous instance, there have been no related arrests. Neither a single related public announcement.
And now for the latest incident that occurred around 2 a.m. yesterday. With over-worked police officers presumably at rest in their bunks, with at least one at the station’s front desk, person or persons unknown walked into the parking lot of the Anse-la-Raye police station, set one of their vehicles ablaze, then casually walked away, conceivably unnoticed. Our photographer was not so lucky. He barely escaped arrest when he was observed taking pictures of the burned-out wreck.
As if already members of the RSLPF were not sufficiently down on their luck, thanks in great part to the unresolved IMPACS (see page 8, this issue), they must now cope with the consequences of yesterday’s fire.
Last Saturday a group of police officers revealed to me that they worried every time they mounted their motorcycles. At least one had exploded while parked. Minutes earlier a police outrider had been in its saddle.
By reliable account the escort bikes were donated to the local police at the time of the World Cup, some eleven years ago. Most of them are in dire need of repair, said my source. Indeed it is conjectural whether they are sufficiently road-worthy to meet insurance demands, he said.
At time of writing there has been no word from the police press office related to arson in a police compound. Is someone deliberately rubbing police noses in the dirt? Did the fire represent a particularly sinister message? Are the police too scared even to make public possible threats on the lives? Could the vehicle’s engine have caught fire by itself?
Several weeks ago, I revealed on TALK and in this newspaper, a taped conversation among former acting police commissioner Errol Alexander and other officers, one of whom he said was in grave danger of being shot by colleagues who had participated in Operation Restore Confidence. Alexander warned the officer that he was seen as a spy for then prime minister Kenny Anthony and the justice minister Philip La Corbiniere. Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the taped conversation: the acting commissioner admitted to the alleged police spy that he could not guarantee his safety. Again my report was followed by a resounding official silence. Not a word, not a word, not a word!