Intelligence obtained by police suggests that the recent spate of violence and shootings in the Castries area for past two weeks is a result of criminal gangs.
That’s according to Commissioner of the Royal St Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) Vernon Francois who has made a promise to go after these criminal elements and ensure that they are brought to justice.
Francois told the media today (July 17) that the police force has developed new strategies to deal with the issue. He said that instead of conducting patrols, intelligence is being used to target specific communities believed to have these criminals. Areas such as Chaussee Road, Grave Yard and Leslie Land are major target areas.
He recalled that at the beginning of the year, the RSLPF had to deal with a similar situation in Morne Du Don.
“The force was able to tackle that through intelligence-led policing, putting together our targeted packages,” he said.
According to him, 15 arrests were made during those operations. The top cop said the same strategies will be used to rid communities of the individuals responsible for the recent shootings.
“We will not back down…we have achieved some degree of success,” he added.
Last week, the RSLPF recovered three firearms along with matching ammunition while four persons were arrested and charged for the murder of Yulanda Fredrick. In relation to the shooting of a 19-year-old male in Conway, two people have been arrested. They are likely to be charged once police investigations wrap up.
François said, “I want to warn the criminals in those areas that we are out to get them and there is not going to be any back down on our part. We are going to do everything it takes, within the laws of St. Lucia to deal with the criminal elements in our midst.” A lot of resources, he noted have been mobilised to ensure that the police are successful. There will also be a greater focus on increased police presence and patrols on streets and targeted communities.
Questioned as to whether he agrees with the statement made by National Security Minister Victor La Corbininiere that the murder of Yulanda Fredrick may have caused the upsurge in criminal activity, Francois was at first reluctant to comment. However, he added his voice by stating that the while the murder could have caused some violence, he believes it may have stemmed from communities being against each other.
Further, the top cop reiterated that the police force is doing all it can to reduce crime with limited resources.
He believes that the upsurge in crime suggests that there may be several societal issues at hand. “I want to assure St Lucians that we are doing all in our power to ensure that the criminals are arrested and charged, he reiterated.