Former Police Commissioner Vernon Francois has urged Caribbean police to be mindful of political interference in policing.
Speaking as a guest speaker at the Caribbean Federation of Police Welfare Association’s (CFPWA) Intercessional Meeting on Wednesday, Francois spoke both against the interference of politicians in police work and police officers yielding to partisan politics in performing their duties.
“The problem in my view is when this involvement reflects in areas of obvious interference such as who a commissioner promotes or who he should transfer. As commissioner of police I encouraged my colleagues to exercise their rights to take part in the national political process by passing the ballot during national elections. What I discouraged was for police officers to publicly associate with political parties. Notwithstanding the constitutional rights, openly practicing partisan politics is a sure recipe for divisiveness,” he said.
“I am from the school which suggests that your primary role as a police officer is to be of service and loyal to the government of the day. The perception and in many cases, the reality is that if you are partisan [is] you will not show the same degree of commitment when your party is not the government of the day,” he added.
Meanwhile, President of the CFPWA Brenton Smith echoed Francois’s sentiments.
“Let us not forget the recent challenges that me and my local association face when with five internal charges were laid at me and two charges given to another member. All these were politically motivated to dismantle our welfare association. My brothers and sisters, I urge you to stay far from politics. Let our “P” stand for police and not politics. We must stand resolute in our fight for equal pay, better living and working conditions for our members.
The theme of the three-day intercessional meeting is “How Can the CFPWA Overcome The Challenges of Political Divisiveness.”