Former top Cop, Cuthbert Phillips, has welcomed the appointment of Hermangild Francis as Minister of Home Affairs, Justice and National Security.
“I am very happy that Mr.Francis has been appointed the minister,” Phillips said.
He recalled having known Francis for all his police life.
“When it comes to policing and what the police require today, I think it is a good choice,” Phillips said.
He described Hermangild Francis as someone who knows the force “inside out”.
Phillips noted that Francis was attached to the regional police training school in Barbados.
He observed that he may have trained a number of local officers who are currently serving.
Phillips asserted that the former Deputy Police Commissioner always wanted to see a highly disciplined Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF).
“I am sure that he will see to it that the Commissioner raises the bar as far as discipline is concerned,” he declared.
Nevertheless, Phillips said that the new minister should avoid giving the impression that he is the Commissioner of Police.
“Too often you find sometimes politicians, especially these days, want to more or less directly or indirectly do the job of the Commissioner of Police and that should not be,” he observed.
Phillips noted that the law tells the Police Chief to whom he should report and what he should do.
He did not think that there is any organization which has as many reports compiled about it like the RSLPF.
Phillips said he would advise that the new minister read all the reports.
He believes that a key issue relates to the image and the public relations of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF).
Phillips quoted from a report in his possession.
He declared that it said that of particular concern to the government and the RSLPF, are the poor public image of the police force and the corresponding loss of confidence in its abilities.
The former top Cop expressed the view that the situation still exists, although the report from which he was quoting was old.
Continuing to quote from the report, he cited the reasons for the loss of confidence in the RSLPF as being allegations of corruption, brutality, arrogance and inadequate performance.
Phillips disclosed that the report indicated that changing the public’s negative view of the police would be difficult in the short term, unless the improvements are made known to the organization.
“It is in this aspect that positive publicity and a clear media strategy will be essential,” the former Police Chief quoted the report as saying.
He added that that the document advised on the appointment of a Police Public Relations Officer to coordinate all media related activity of the force.
He said that the public must see that the Police Complaints Unit is functioning.
The former top Cop also asserted that members of the public must know what action has been taken against errant members of the RSLPF.