Award-winning Saint Lucia police officer Inspector Shervon Matthieu has urged further reform of the Island’s laws regarding possessing illegal guns or ammunition to ensure jail terms.
Matthieu recently received the Top Caribbean Crime Fighter award of a trophy and US$5,000 in Trinidad and Tobago.
He donated the cash to three local organisations.
Matthieu believes that although recently revised, the authorities should again scrutinise Saint Lucia’s gun legislation.
“In Jamaica there’s no bail for a firearm offence right now and you’re sentenced to fifteen years in prison,” he told the DBS Television programme Newsmaker Live Wednesday night.
“I believe that firearm offences, whatever it is, it could be a bullet, should be an incarcerated term – no fines,” Matthieu told programme host, Timothy Poleon.
Amid 43 homicides for the year, most involving guns, Matthieu compared gun crime to cancer.
“Cancer is deadly. Sometimes you survive the treatment – sometimes you don’t. So we need to deal with it. Make it more difficult for the perpetrators of of those gun crimes,” he asserted.
Matthieu painted a scenario of the police arresting an individual with four illegal firearms.
“You take them to court for bail – let’s say you are a police officer who does his work very quickly. I come to work, Tim, at 5:00 am. I search your home; I recover a firearm or two. I ask you if you have a lawyer, you tell me ‘No’,” he stated, adding that the services of a Justice of the Peace could be used.
“I interview you. I charge you. I get you to the court by 11:00 am. You have your family members already waiting. You go to the court. The magistrate gives you bail – $25,000 cash or suitable surety,” Matthieu said.
“Cash or suitable surety is basically somebody who is capable of signing for you. That person would just go to the bank, ask for a bank statement, come back to the court office, in being interviewed, sign your bail and by 3 O’ clock you’re out already that same day,” the police Inspector explained.
“Why not make it $25,000 cash. Yes, go and look for the $25,000 cash. Some of them may have it, some of them may not have it. But make it more difficult – $50,000 cash, because a bail is just to secure the person’s attendance at court,” Matthieu told Newsmaker Live.
He indicated that the court would thus exert pressure from the bail, which would serve as a deterrent.
In addition, Matthieu spoke of the need for more ‘boots on the ground,’ more CCTV cameras, drones, dogs to assist officers in their duties, and greater community engagement by the police as among the other measures to address crime.