Acting Commissioner of Police Errol Alexander has responded to a number of issues raised by President of the Police Welfare Association, Camron Laure, who has heavily criticised the commissioner for not ensuring that certain issues are addressed within the police force in a timely manner.
Alexander told media operatives on Friday (July 24) that he had received a letter from the association requesting a meeting, but was not able to respond immediately, because he was dealing with other pressing matters, particularly as it relates to preparation for Saint Lucia’s annual carnival celebrations.
However, Laure thought he had waited long enough for a response from the acting commissioner and decided to vent his frustration during a recent interview on News Pin. He raised a number of issues in relation to the police promotion policy, poor conditions of stations and transfers, among others.
Alexander’s response today wasL “Although I don’t want to pick a fight with the president of the association, since we must work together for the well-being of men and women in the force…I believe he is unreasonable and unfair in his assertions and he should mend the organisation’s wounds at this time.”
He explained to the media that he became acting police commissioner on March 23, making it over three months since he has been appointed that post. Alexander said while he has been able to address several issues since then, there are still many issues that needs to be looked into, noting that everything cannot be resolved all at once.
The acting top cop said one of the issues raised in the correspondence from the association was the state of the Soufriere Police Station. While he admits that the building is old and is in need of dire repairs, he reiterated that the force does not have the authority to do so, because it is a government department.
As a start, Alexander said a team of engineers assessed the station last Thursday and provided a report to the Ministry of Infrastructure, who will make a decision on whether to repair the building or not, or what can be done at this point.
Meanwhile, in addressing the issue of promotions and transfers, the acting police commissioner told the media that there are certain legislation to guide this process. He said there are also guidelines that must be followed in order to ensure that the right people are chosen to hold senior positions within the force.
Alexander said while the commissioner could decide on the promotion of a police officer, he believes that there should be set rules on who to promote. He said this should be done for the sake of transparency and in fairness to all police officers who are seeking to serve at a higher level.
“I am sure you would agree with me that there needs to be a yard stick, to measure who needs to be promoted or not. I will just not sit at my chair and roll a dice and promote people. There must be a process,” he asserted.
Further, he reminded that the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC) is responsible for reviewing the exams for police officers. The board of examiners is made up of officials from both the Public Service and Home Affairs Ministry and the assistant police commissioner in charge of operations.
“Specifically important for us is the cry from members of the public about corrupt and crooked police officers. I am sure you would agree with me, that we would like to put our police officers through vetting, so they have a certain level of ethical standards to move on to supervisory positions,” he added.
Making reference to a recent situation where a few police officers asked for their exam results to be reviewed, Alexander noted that the police force had to pay for those reviews. In addition, the force also had to pay additional fees to hire a special tutor, to assist officers who were behind.
The acting police commissioner said while all of these issues are being looked at, he is surprised that the association has now decided to bring these issues to his attention and was looking for a quick resolution, when they were never raised before.
Nevertheless, Alexander said he is open to meeting with the executive of the association to discuss these issues. But at the same time, he also reminded that elections are due for the association and he would like to see that this process is completed, so that he can include them in discussions regarding the issues they have raised.