Marine Police Commander, Finley Leonce, has said that a lack of United States sponsored training is beginning to negatively impact the Marine Police Unit.
Leonce made the remarks at a ceremony Friday to mark Tiller Day which is observed every last Friday in July.
Tiller Day commemorates the official handover of the Marine Unit to locals by expatriate Royal Navy Officers.
Commander Leonce described the Marine Unit’s inability to receive US-sponsored training as a pressing challenge.
(Commander Finley Leonce)
“Whilst every effort is being made to fill this void with in-house training, the officers who conduct this in-house training themselves need to be exposed to the most recent technology and best practices out there,” the Marine Police official explained.
“Let me hasten to add that the RSS has heard our pleas and is increasingly assisting in this regard,” Leonce said.
The United States suspended assistance to Saint Lucia police in 2013 as a result of allegations of gross human rights violations linked to a number of fatal police shootings between 2010 and 2011.
The shootings took place during an anti-crime initiative that was dubbed – Operation Restore Confidence.
Commander Leonce told Friday’s ceremony that despite the lack of US-sponsored training for the Marine Police Unit and other challenges, his officers continue to be a ‘motivated bunch’ who will spare no effort in protecting this country’s borders.
(Section of audience)
“While it is sometimes difficult to quantify the success form the work we are doing because more often than not our success is measured by the number of kilos we have actually brought to shore, it is oftentimes easy to forget the number of deliveries which were interrupted causing the occupants of the target vessels to ditch hundreds of kilos overboard, or the number of distress calls responded to, assistance provided to Customs, or the beach bums we continuously run down for illegally harvesting sea urchins,” he stated.
He also mentioned school lectures and other initiatives undertaken by the Marine Unit.
According to Leonce, from the start of this year the Marine Unit has averaged a total of 34 patrols a month.
He disclosed that the Marine Unit has confiscated 1,800 pounds of cannabis, 19 kilos of cocaine and arrested 22 persons during that time.