Police Welfare Association (PWA), Travis Chicot, has responded to scathing criticism this week of police officers by Castries Mayor, Peterson Francis, by calling on Francis to retract comments he made.
Chicot made specific reference to the Mayor’s assertion that moonlighting officers would not respond to offences committed a stone’s throw away from locations where they engage in off duty employment.
The PWA President told St Lucia Times that although he does not engage in ‘specials’, he is aware that off duty officers are sometimes the ones who respond before their colleagues who are on duty.
“For the Mayor to say that, I think he needs to retract the latter part of his statement,” Chicot declared.
“We believe as a welfare association that this is an attack against us,” Chicot said.
The PWA official told St Lucia Times that off duty employment for police officers does not take priority over their regular work.
He explained that since an officer who engages in such employment is on his ‘free time’, he is entitled to do whatever he wants with that time.
According to Chicot, the procedure for police ‘special duty’ includes filling out a form and submitting it to the Inspector in charge three days before the intended duty.
“The form is very comprehensive – it speaks to how many times the person is late, how many times the person has reported sick and the persons you see on special duty are persons who have kept a certain standard of work,” he said, adding that they are authorised to engage in off duty employment.
“If one is financially constrained and he needs some extra finances and is of duty and engages in part time employment, we should not chastise people for these things,” Chicot stated.
He asserted that some persons have become ‘fly by night’ consultants on matters of national security.
But he noted that the PWA is concerned about the level of productivity in the organisation and will do its best to mobilise officers.
Chicot stated that officers would love to come out an patrol but the numbers are down.
“Day by day police officers are retiring, police officers are leaving for greener pastures – so we would love to see a better police force and a greater police presence on the road,” the PWA President told St Lucia Times.
“When last did we have a batch of police officers coming from the training school? It’s been almost four years. We are down by almost a hundred police officers,” Chicot observed.
The PWA President said citizens are within their right to ask why they are not seeing more police patrols.
But he said he was surprised to learn that the traffic department issued 144 tickets in a week.
“That tells you that the police are out,” Chicot stated.
He spoke, among other things, of the success of the police patrol team in seizing illegal firearms, the CID which he said was solving almost 75 percent of crimes despite challenges, and the Traffic Department which is performing despite challenges including a ‘mess’ of a building and lack of resources.
“We are working and we are present in the City,” the PWA President asserted.
However, he acknowledged that there is need to police the City more.
Chicot urged the Mayor to seek to create greater collaboration between the police force and City Police.
The PWA official said his organisation would like to see greater collaboration with the City Police, the Fire Service and Correctional Officers.