A senior official has criticised the reaction of the authorities to recent reports of students with guns.
In one of the incidents, a photo of two young males in school uniform toting what police said appeared to be real guns, was posted on social media.
In another incident at the Corinth Secondary school, it was reported that an unidentified teacher earlier this month returned a gun to a 16-year old student after he had reported that an item from his bag had gone missing.
CMC News reported that National Security Minister, Hermangild Francis, had hinted at the possibility of a secondary school teacher being charged in connection with the matter.
An official who spoke with St Lucia Times on condition of anonymity said that every young man would be ‘fascinated’ with firearms.
“It does not mean that they are criminals. I was a young man at one time and I did the same – did that make me a criminal?” The official stated.
“I can understand that we have a crime situation – yes. But the students having a weapon – brandishing a weapon and taking photos, that does not make the students criminals,” he asserted.
“The student is not interested in what is illegal or not – that’s a child. What is legal or illegal in that for law enforcement to determine?”
The official expressed the view that the Minister of Education and others were engaging in a ‘knee jerk’ reaction.
“Just because of the crime situation we are grabbing on to that and putting pressure on the Police Commissioner who can do nothing about that. Nothing.”
According to the official, in the matter at the Corinth Secondary School, the teacher did the right thing by ‘trying to preserve her life’.
“Let the state do what it wants. That is not her role to fight crime. She did the right thing because the state cannot safeguard her.”
According to the official, his wife is a teacher and he has directed her to do exactly what the Corinth teacher did.
“In any such situation, return the weapon. That is the best course of action. Let the police investigate afterwards.”
Education Minister, Doctor Gale Rigobert, told reporters here this week that new measures will be put in place to deal with the two recent incidents.
“On Monday we had a very comprehensive meeting with the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force and the Minister, Hermangild (Francis). You will appreciate that some of these matters are being handled by the police. So I am very limited in what I can say with respect to the undertaking by the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force,” Rigobert said in an interview broadcast by Hot 7 News.
Sh said her her ministry continues to collaborate with the police to train and better equip school watchmen and security officers.
“The recent incidents have prompted us to revise the protocols of engagement among the various agencies, that when an an incident such as happened at Dennery or Corinth would occur, it would be obvious to any of the persons involved what the next steps are – not just the next steps, but that the appropriate steps are.”