ARE PO­LICE LIVES UN­DER THREAT?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - FRONT PAGE - Rick Wayne By

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 Ansela-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!

How did an ar­son­ist set this po­lice ve­hi­cle on fire un­no­ticed? To­day, ar­son, who knows about to­mor­row? Many be­lieve lives of po­lice of­fi­cers have been im­pacted by Kenny An­thony’s IMPACS re­port!

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