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Special Services Unit (SSU) Inspector Ricardo Innocent has sent out a stern reminder to all persons that the laws pertaining to military camouflage wear are still in effect.
“As it relates to camouflage the Public Order Act states clearly in Section 13 that no one should wear any camouflage material in public,” Innocent said on Police Insight on Sunday.
He also reminded that persons or groups who desire to be attired in camouflage must seek official permission from the Commissioner of Police of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF).
Police Public Relations Officer Zachary Hippolyte questioned whether the law attains only to the material used by police, but the SSU inspector clarified that it doesn’t matter what colour of camouflage it is.
One caller said that she witnessed police officers stripping a man of his camouflage outfit, even though he had explained to the officers that he was not aware that it is prohibited.
But the officers criticized this move, stating that this should not have occurred. The question was then asked what should been done in the case that a person is seen wearing such a material.
“What I would do is give the individual a warning not to wear camouflage and if I recall and I see that same individual, I will proceed into effecting an arrest because it is against the laws,” Innocent said.
The inspector went on to say that the police have been a bit lackadaisical when it comes to this particular law, but noted the time will come when zero tolerance will be placed on persons wearing camouflage.
It was also brought to his attention that camouflage clothes are sometimes sold, and as much as there is a law to prevent persons from wearing the material, there isn’t any law to prevent persons from selling it.
But Inspector Innocent said that while there may be a very few stores engaging in the sale of these materials, he has not come across any and suggested that there might only be a small number.
The Saint Lucia Parliament had passed legislation banning members of the public from wearing camouflage outfits similar to those worn by the police, since July of 2010.
The then Prime Minister Stephenson King, who introduced the measure, had told the House that the police force had been requesting a review of the legislation dealing with the wearing of camouflage by civilians.
It was also noted that the private sector had been importing those outfits and they were worn at carnival time or other occasions, and has become part of “the ordinary man’s dress code.”
As a result, there were occasions when one could not have distinguished the difference between a policeman and a civilian.
Persons found in contravention of that law could be faced with a heavy fine from the court. Failure to pay the fine could result in a jail sentence.