National Security Minister, Hermangild Francis, has spoken publicly for the first time about a story that St Lucia Times broke this week, about alleged insubordination towards him by a Woman Police Constable (WPC).
Francis has come under fire on social media since St Lucia Times published the story.
But he has declared that it was inappropriate for the WPC not to take his call.
The WPC is reported to have declared that she had no time to speak with Francis, when informed by a volunteer from the Office of the Prime Minister that the minister was on the telephone requesting to speak with her.
According to reports, the female volunteer was seeking to fast track the entry of several Martinique nationals who arrived here by ferry during carnival celebrations.
Francis said that he was informed that there were a number of Martiniquans who had come here for carnival and the volunteer had spoken to Customs and Port Authority officials who had agreed to cooperate.
“She then told me that there was a WPC who was on duty for immigration but apparently she did not seem to cooperate, so she was asking to see whether I could get some assistance from her,” the minister told reporters Thursday.
“I asked her to give the WPC the phone so that I could speak to her.”
“My intention, and I understand protocol, I understand the chain of command. All I was trying to find out from the WPC was what was the situation like there. How difficult it was for her to deal with the influx of the Martiniquans, and then I would have called the Commissioner of Police and said :’Let me tell you something, you only have only one or two persons there and there are hundreds of people there, so can you beef up the immigration department by sending a couple more persons?’ That is what I was trying to find out.”
According to the minister, the WPC ‘blatantly’ said that she would not take his call.
“She did not want to speak with the minister and I felt very aggrieved at that because there is no way that a police officer, not even verifying whether it is the minister on the line or not, to find out what the minister wants.”
“She could have come and just said: ‘Well, minister, I am so busy there that I really can’t speak to you’ and then I would have told her what I wanted to find out from her,” Francis explained.
He recalled that persons who have been aggrieved about certain things, have called him and he has referred the matter to the Police Commissioner.
“The Commissioner is her direct boss. I can’t give the WPC any directives. I would have called the Commissioner. But to just say in the public domain to a volunteer working with the Prime Minister’s Office that she was not going to speak to me – she is not interested in the minister – I mean, if we are a disciplined police force; a lot of police officers are actually condoning that you know.”
According to Francis, if the police force is disciplined and persons are going to support the WPC in her actions then “we are finished as a force.”
The former Deputy Police Commissioner said he had made a report about the incident because he thought it was inappropriate for the WPC not to take the minister’s call.
“I can’t decide for the police commissioner whether it was a breach of protocol or indiscipline – the investigation will deal with that matter,” Francis declared.
He said he was informed that there was a letter from the Office of the Prime Minister indicating that the Martinique nationals would have been arriving and requesting the Immigration Department to make the necessary arrangements to fast track their entry.
“This has been done all over the world. The cricketers come in – 25, 30 people. You think each cricketer is going to take his passport and bring it to the immigration officer? It is not going to happen,” Francis asserted.
He stated that the manager of the teams takes all the passports and presents them to the immigration officer.
The minister explained that when he travels with an entourage, he does not have to face any immigration officer.
“The list is there, somebody comes from protocol, takes the list, gives it to the immigration officer with the passports and we are shuffled through.”
Francis told reporters he has no idea who the WPC is, and asserted that there is nothing personal in regard to the issue.