PWA and Minister Francis to go head to head

By Gideon Aurelien

Francis (left) and Chicot

(SNO) – The Police Welfare Association ((PWA) has come out strongly in support of a woman police constable (WPC) at the centre of a row between herself and Home Affairs and National Security Minister Hermangild Francis.

Not only is the PWA prepared to provide whatever support the WPC needs to fight a charge of insubordination brought against her by the minister, but also says it will be calling on Police Commissioner Severin Moncherry to drop the probe.

According to Travis Chicot, president of the PWA, his organisation has placed emphasis on this particular matter because “whilst the police place great importance on their constitutional freedom, the importance of their accountability should not be overlooked as a counter balance to any unprofessional or unethical use of it”.

“So we say the constitution of St. Lucia gives the commissioner of police the operational authority of the Royal St. Lucia Police Force and no individual, whether politician or otherwise, should use his or her office to influence or to appear to influence the daily operations of the police officer. Having consulted the officer and conducted our own investigations, we stand firmly in solidarity with the police officer and will provide her the necessary support,” Chicot said.

“Further we shall be writing to the commissioner of police asking for an immediate discontinuation of this investigation since the minister has admitted he understands protocols and the chain of command of the Royal St. Lucia Police Force,” Chicot said.

The PWA executive met with reporters earlier on Monday, August 20, 2018 and further asserted that “our authority is clear and strictly defined under the law and we are personally reliable for the consequences whenever we invoke it”.

Public Relations Officer of the PWA, Acting Sergeant Zachary Hippolyte said: “We play no part in determining guilt or punishment and our accountability to the courts and to parliament and to public opinion is unsurpassed anywhere else in the world. Under our legal and constitutional framework in which society requires us to enforce the laws enacted by selected representatives, the most vital weapon in our armory is not firearms and rubber bullets but the public’s confidence and support.”

Hippolyte said that confidence and support depend not only on the factors mentioned, but on the police force’s personal and collective integrity, and in particular, on its long tradition of constitutional freedom from political interference in its operational role.

“Albeit the police have responsibilities to national security but it is important for us to understand that the police are not servants of the government at any level. We do not solely act at the behest of a minister or any political party, not even the party in government,” Hippolyte added.

Said Hippolyte: “We act on behalf of the people as a whole and the powers we exercise cannot be restricted or widen by anyone. It is through this {that} our relationship with the public is maintained. We are making it clear the commissioner of police will always give the most careful and considerate views or representations he may receive from his authority be it the minister or Public Service Commission on any issue affecting enforcement of the law, whether public order or anything else. But in St. Lucia it is generally for him and him alone to decide what operational action to take and to answer for the consequences.”

The investigation into the incident dealing with the WPC and Minister Francis occurred sometime last month when the WPC was alleged not to have taken a telephone call from Francis sparking remarks that she may have behaved insubordinately to the minister.

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8 comments

  1. Hermin must have thought the WPC was one of his little rats from Dennery .

    (0)(0)
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  3. Wasting time on stupidity when there is so much to be done. The Commissioner of Police should not even entertain the Minister with this nonsense. Mr. Minister, you are wrong, damn it!

    (6)(0)
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  5. What a joke! Hermangild is violating Standard Operating Procedures and he is surprised at the result. His ego may have been bruised, but he needs to get over that hump and settle down. He needs to write lines like they do for punishment in schools. "I will always use the Chain of Command to avoid confusion."
    Stop that silly investigation because the minister is the wrong party. Grow up, son.

    (9)(0)
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  7. F. Francis . Whatever he had to say to her should have been related to the police commissioner then forward thru her commanding officer.

    (10)(1)
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  9. Vaughn A R Blanchard

    Who went public with this incident?
    Sometimes we try to score cheap political points with these stories, but in the end put people at risk. The lady deserves a first warning letter, based on the information in the public domain. If the information in the public domain is not factual, then the person who first broke this story needs to give us the correct facts.

    (7)(13)
    • Seriously Vaughn! Obviously you are very confused when it comes to protocol. The Minister should have contacted the Commissioner who would then contact the officer. Too often ministers feel free to contact line employees bypassing the chain of command.

      (7)(0)
    • Vaughn you’re a fool

      Sometimes those hoping for a crumb are so blatant in their colour blindness it makes them look stupid.

      (0)(0)

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