Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Ernest Hilaire says the former United Workers Party (UWP) government signed a $40,000 a month contract with a private interest for the use of two dogs by the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF).
The Castries South MP’s disclosure to reporters on Monday came against the backdrop of recent remarks by former National Security Minister Hermangild Francis.
During an appearance on the DBS Television programme ‘Newsmaker Live,’ Francis, a former Deputy Police Commissioner, called for the use of police dogs in the fight against crime.
Dr. Hilaire told reporters he heard Francis talk about the dogs and the police K9 Unit.
“The reality is they signed a contract for the use of two dogs at a contract of $40,000 a month with a private interest,” Hilaire noted.
“The police force has had dogs over the years at considerably less cost,” the Castries South MP recalled.
And he told the reporters that the former administration left office without paying the bills.
“We now had to pay the bills and the whole question of sustainability and what is the best use of money has to be taken into account,” Hilaire said.
Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Milton Desir has explained that the police K9 Unit was in use.
“However now I believe there are some developments I would mention later,” he told reporters on Monday.
The comments on Monday about police dogs came amid concern over a spike in gun violence.
A day earlier, two men were gunned down within hours of each other at Faux A Chaud, Castries, raising the homicide toll to 33.
Dr. Ernest Hilaire, in whose constituency the killings occurred, said it was painful to learn of the gun violence.
He noted the need for a broader approach to fighting crime in this society, declaring that the problem was deeper than the availability of firearms.
And Hilaire also explained that the solution was not limited to stiffer penalties like the recent measure tabled in parliament to discourage the use of illegal guns.
According to the Castries South MP, effective policing, profound behaviour change, and conflict resolution are among the required measures.
Hilaire indicated to reporters that there must be a relentless, sustained, and holistic response to crime that has festered over the years.
“We need to have a national effort,” he told reporters.