Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Prom­ises To Keep Re­duc­ing Crime!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Toni Ni­cholas

With the crime stats show­ing that there has been a re­duc­tion in the num­ber of ma­jor crimes re­ported in 2014 and now news of a homi­cide-free Jan­uary, the Royal Saint Lu­cia Po­lice Force is cer­tainly hav­ing a mo­ment in the spot­light. Still, it may be a mo­ment of feigned glory - what with a re­port from an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the RSLPF now said to be in the hands of the gov­ern­ment. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion stemmed from a num­ber of po­lice killings ef­fected in 2011 un­der what was known as “op­er­a­tion re­store con­fi­dence.”

With his usual calm de­meanour, on Mon­day Fe­bru­ary 2, 2015 po­lice com­mis­sioner Ver­non Fran­cois in­formed re­porters that the is­land had reg­is­tered zero homi­cides for Jan­uary. How­ever, he was quick to credit “the victory” to the cit­i­zenry. “Ob­vi­ously we are very happy to reg­is­ter zero homi­cides last month,” he said. “This is a small victory for the en­tire is­land. So I re­ally would like to thank the public for work­ing with us as we move to­wards a greater re­duc­tion in crime in 2015,” Fran­cois em­pha­sized.

At a press con­fer­ence on Jan­uary 21, 2015, Fran­cois had also ap­plauded Saint Lu­cians for work­ing with the po­lice in 2014, a year that had shown an in­crease in the po­lice de­tec­tion rate.

Af­ter thank­ing the public for its co­op­er­a­tion, the com­mis­sioner ex­plained that since 2010 when 44 homi­cides had been recorded, there had been a down­ward trend in the num­bers. “We have to keep re­duc­ing this and although we will never have a crime-free so­ci­ety, which is the ul­ti­mate, I think that as a peo­ple we can work to­wards re­duc­ing mur­ders in Saint Lu­cia,” Fran­cois said.

Be­fore delv­ing into the ac­tual crime stats, the com­mis­sioner touched on deal­ing with er­rant po­lice of­fi­cers within the force. ACP Alexander then gave fur­ther de­tails on how the RSLPF had dealt with aber­rant of­fi­cers. “Seventy-two mat­ters were ad­ju­di­cated for the year 2014 and twenty-six of­fi­cers were fined,” Alexander stated. He went on to ex­plain that the process for ad­ju­di­ca­tion was sim­i­lar to what is done by a mag­is­trates court but that it was an in­ter­nal court process within the RSLPF. “We are hop­ing to have more suc­cess this year as some of the mat­ters up for hear­ing last year could be brought to an end by April,” he said.

The press con­fer­ence then went into the ac­tual crime statis­tics: dur­ing the pe­riod 2014 there were 20,084 in­ci­dents of crime re­ported, a 5.5% in­crease over 2013. There was also an in­crease in over­all de­tec­tion rate of crime re­ported by 3%. There were also re­duc­tions in all ma­jor cat­e­gories of crime with the ex­cep­tion of crime against prop­erty and sum­mary of­fenses.

The po­lice then went on to high­light that in 2014 there were 34 homi­cides recorded as com­pared to 36 in 2013. The vic­tims ranged in age from 3140 years. Among the num­ber last year were two men­tally un­sta­ble men who were shot and killed by po­lice.

A closer ex­am­i­na­tion of the homi­cides in 2014 re­veals that 62% of them were com­mit­ted in and around the city, 17% in the north of the is­land and 21% in the south­ern part of Saint Lu­cia. Most of them had been caused by firearms, which also saw an in­crease in re­cov­ery of such by the po­lice in 2014.

In the area of crimes against per­sons there were 4,151 cases re­ported last year with a 53% de­tec­tion rate.

Sex­ual as­sault crimes re­flected 270 cases ac­cepted and 170 de­tected. Of that num­ber there were 44 in­ci­dents of rape, seven at­tempted rape cases and 24 cases of un­law­ful sex­ual con­nec­tion (in 2013 there were 12). There were 74 cases of in­de­cent as­sault (ten less than 2013), seven in­de­cent acts and 21 gross in­de­cency acts. The po­lice also at­tended to eight cases of bug­gery and five cases of in­cest in 2014.

There was a sharp in­crease in of­fenses against prop­erty in 2014 - 5,337 cases up from 4,703.

The RSLPF also recorded a num­ber of suc­cess­ful drug in­ter­dic­tion and erad­i­ca­tion ex­er­cises in 2014. The ma­jor­ity of those, 166, were for the un­law­ful pos­ses­sion of cannabis. There were also 11 mat­ters in­volv­ing co­caine.

Dur­ing the said press con­fer­ence po­lice com­mis­sioner Ver­non Fran­cois said that while the loss of as­sis­tance by the United States to the RSLPF may have af­fected the po­lice, they had dou­bled their ef­forts in fight­ing crime in 2014. “Ob­vi­ously any as­sis­tance for proper train­ing for the po­lice is wel­comed, but I do be­lieve that the step­ping up of our com­mu­nity polic­ing and work­ing with the gen­eral public has brought re­sults,” he said. How­ever, the in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the po­lice, which later re­sulted in the with­drawal of as­sis­tance by the United States, was a mat­ter that the com­mis­sioner could not avoid. Ac­cord­ing to Fran­cois, this was a chap­ter he wanted to see be brought to clo­sure. When asked whether a copy of the IMPACS re­port would be made avail­able to him, the com­mis­sioner re­sponded: “That’s a ques­tion that I think is best suited for the prime min­is­ter to an­swer”.

Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Ver­non Fran­cois along with ACP Er­rol Alexander and act­ing

deputy com­mis­sioner Frances Henry at re­cent press con­fer­ence.

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