Saint Lu­cia’s New Top Cop Sev­erin Monch­ery Talks Tough

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

IFaye-Chantelle Mon­de­sir n the ad­vent of the April 1st of­fi­cial ap­point­ment of a new Police Com­mis­sioner to Saint Lu­cia, the STAR sat with Act­ing Deputy Com­mis­sioner Sev­erin Monch­ery to dis­cuss per­ti­nent is­sues, prior to him as­sum­ing his post on what is cel­e­brated as ‘All Fools Day’ on the Gregorian calendar. But make no mis­take about it, Monch­ery is no fool and is well aware of the in­sur­mount­able task which lies ahead as well as present is­sues af­fect­ing the Royal Saint Lu­cia Police Force.

Sev­erin Monch­ery has been an ac­tive mem­ber of the RSLPF since Jan­uary 16th, 1985 to present. He takes us back to when he started.

“When I first joined the force, I started off at Beat and Pa­trol and, from there, I moved to the Traf­fic Depart­ment where I re­ceived train­ing for six months at the Re­gional Police Train­ing Cen­tre in Bar­ba­dos. Upon my re­turn I spent two years at the Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tion Depart­ment and from there I moved to the Marine Unit where I spent an­other two years, went back to C.I.D. where I spent an­other two, and then went on to the Pros­e­cu­tion Unit where I spent 13 years.”

Iron­i­cally enough he told the STAR that he was not in­ter­ested in be­com­ing a police of­fi­cer in his ear­lier days. Ac­cord­ing to him, he was co­erced into join­ing the RSLPF by one of his friends who, at the time, was a police of­fi­cer. He ex­plained that he de­cided to write the police exam af­ter be­ing per­suaded and ul­ti­mately con­vinced by his com­rade.

Monch­ery shared, “My pen at the time fell on its point,” - this he took as an omen of sorts which to him sig­ni­fied that his ca­reer choice was prob­a­bly not meant to be. “Griselda Branford gave me a pen and I wrote the exam top­ping my class,” he dis­closed. When later, CXC qual­i­fi­ca­tions be­came a re­quire­ment to join the force, Monch­ery pre­sented his to the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s ad­min­is­tra­tive team and he was ac­cepted into the RSLPF, he told the STAR.

His highest mo­ment thus far, he said, was re­ceiv­ing the news that he had been ap­pointed com­mis­sioner of police. The low, he re­vealed, would have been when he was trans­ferred from the Pros­e­cu­tion Unit in 2005.

Talk­ing about low points, we ques­tioned Monch­ery on the IMPACS in­ves­ti­ga­tion and Op­er­a­tion Re­store Con­fi­dence and the ap­par­ent neg­a­tiv­ity it has cre­ated for the RSLPF and, by ex­ten­sion, Saint Lu­cia.

“What may have cre­ated some con­cern was the con­se­quences of the IMPACS in­ves­ti­ga­tion. When there are or­gan­i­sa­tions or agen­cies with the range of power that the police force has, one’s ac­tions at some point will be re­viewed; oth­er­wise there would be anarchy within the force,” said Monch­ery.

He con­tin­ued: “I see IMPACS as do­ing just that, re­view­ing the acts of the police. I think maybe the way the in­for­ma­tion re­vealed through IMPACS was han­dled would have been the neg­a­tive of the whole in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

For the newly-ap­pointed police com­mis­sioner one of his re­spon­si­bil­i­ties is “pre­par­ing my of­fi­cers for any pos­si­ble con­se­quence or any pos­si­ble out­come”.

“I must say, too, that those per­sons who al­le­ga­tions have been lev­eled against, that they are sim­ply al­le­ga­tions for now, and if we are to go by the pre­sump­tion that a man is in­no­cent un­til proven guilty, then one would have to give them the full sup­port un­til such time that they are proven guilty, if at all they are,” the new top cop said.

“I must also add that no one is above the law and if the ac­tion of any police of­fi­cer is found to be in breach of the law, then he has to face the con­se­quences and be brought to jus­tice. Un­til such time, the pub­lic needs to sup­port my of­fi­cers as much as pos­si­ble,” Monch­ery urged.

When asked about Ver­non Francois’ sud­den exit from the force, the Act­ing Deputy Com­mis­sioner claimed to be “no wiser than the pub­lic”.

“I am no wiser than you are, there­fore I am not in a po­si­tion to com­ment on this, Even Mr. Francois him­self has not com­mented, so I am not even sure that what I am hear­ing around the place is cor­rect, as we have not had the chance to speak about it.”

The STAR quizzed Monch­ery about some of the con­tro­versy sur­round­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion process for the post of police com­mis­sioner, which drew a le­gal chal­lenge from at least one police of­fi­cer. We also re­minded him that it had been sug­gested on a talk show that the em­ploy­ment stan­dards were low­ered to ac­com­mo­date him.

“The em­ploy­ment stan­dards, as far as I know, when I look at the va­cancy no­tices and the re­quire­ments, were at no point low­ered to ac­com­mo­date me. I qual­i­fied un­der the first va­cancy no­tice and also un­der the sec­ond one and I have the proof of that,” Monch­ery main­tained. (He went on to fur­nish the STAR with ev­i­dence).

On the clo­sure of the foren­sic lab­o­ra­tory Monch­ery had this to say: “Lab anal­y­sis for the police is done by var­i­ous agen­cies out of Saint Lu­cia rang­ing from Bar­ba­dos to Trinidad, the Ba­hamas and some is done in Eng­land. As far as I know with our foren­sic lab and its re­open­ing we were at an ad­vanced stage. As to what has hap­pened lately I do not know; I think the min­is­ter was mak­ing a con­certed ef­fort last time we spoke to get the lab re­opened. One thing peo­ple need to un­der­stand is that not ev­ery case we han­dle re­quires the use of lab ser­vices.”

Monch­ery be­came com­man­der of the RSLPF yes­ter­day, Fri­day April 1, telling the STAR that high on his pri­or­ity list was tack­ling the spate of rapes and sex­ual as­saults which have been tran­spir­ing of late. Ac­cord­ing to him, he has plans in place which he in­tends to dis­cuss with his ex­ec­u­tive and the rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers. “You would have heard of the sup­port team that is in place. I would need to go be­yond that. I would need to es­tab­lish a spe­cial team which would be a Rape De­tec­tion and Preven­tion Team, re­spon­si­ble for re­view­ing all the cases we have had in the past and look at sim­i­lar­i­ties in those cases, and to put in place a strat­egy to see how best we can work to­ward not only pre­vent­ing those rapes, but also in terms of try­ing to bring some of the per­pe­tra­tors to jus­tice.”

He went on to em­phat­i­cally state, “I must say that I highly con­demn such acts; it is def­i­nitely vi­o­lat­ing the rights of our fe­males, in­vad­ing their pri­vacy and we need to tackle it head on. We need to stop these per­sons and we need to bring those in­di­vid­u­als to jus­tice.”

In re­gards to pub­lic trust, he in­tends to es­tab­lish a more strin­gent police fol­low-up sys­tem to re­as­sure the pub­lic fol­low­ing in­ci­dents of crime, in ad­di­tion to meet­ing with the pub­lic on a fre­quent ba­sis to dis­sem­i­nate in­for­ma­tion.

For police of­fi­cers too, ac­com­mo­da­tions are be­ing made for the in­tro­duc­tion of a chap­lain sys­tem which will pro­vide moral and spir­i­tual sup­port with the aim of help­ing them to bet­ter cope with their daily du­ties. Monch­ery be­lieves that spir­i­tual strength is key in re­gard to ul­ti­mate per­for­mance of law en­force­ment of­fi­cers on a day-to-day ba­sis.

Other plans on his agenda are to work more closely with the me­dia. “I know the jour­ney may not al­ways be a smooth one, and I know at times there will be crit­i­cism, but I do not in­tend to al­low this to keep me away from the me­dia,” he said. Ac­cord­ing to Monch­ery, “Crit­i­cism can be pos­i­tive; at times it can be used for in­tro­spec­tive via which one’s own im­age can be built.’

“The me­dia has a role to play and I will al­low them to do their job, as long as it’s not done in any dis­re­spect­ful way.”

He also in­tends to host reg­u­lar press con­fer­ences to fa­cil­i­tate the seam­less, ef­fi­cient and timely dis­sem­i­na­tion and flow of in­for­ma­tion to the pub­lic. Plans are also on the agenda to up­grade the police press­room to fa­cil­i­tate more pro­fes­sional com­mu­ni­ca­tions pro­ceed­ings.

In clos­ing, and much to the re­as­sur­ance of the con­cerned pub­lic, at the top of all his plans as the new Act­ing Police Com­mis­sioner, Monch­ery re­it­er­ated: “No one is above the law and, in deal­ing with crime, no one will be spared. If you have com­mit­ted your­self, once the ev­i­dence is there to prove it, you will face the court sys­tem and you will be brought to jus­tice, so there is noth­ing about you be­ing civil­ian, or you be­ing a police of­fi­cer, or be­ing one in a high po­si­tion. No one is above the law and that is one of the things I will con­tinue to stand by; that no mat­ter who you are, you will be dealt with in the same way as any­one else.”

Sev­erin Monch­ery: Newly-ap­pointed

Com­mis­sioner of Police.

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