Castries Mayor, Peterson Francis, has dismissed what he describes as the ‘nonsensical’ notion that the powers of arrest of City Police officers are limited to the Castries municipality.
Francis says that according to the Saint Lucia constitution, the Commissioner of Police has overall responsibility for law and order.
He explained that even before recent legislation in the House of Assembly, the Commissioner was entitled to administer the oath of office.
“I could decide or the (City) council could decide that we want you to be a City Police officer. If the Commissioner decides that he is not giving you the oath of office, we cannot do anything. In other words, you cannot be a City Police (officer) with arresting powers,” Francis explained.
The Mayor said once the Police Chief administers the oath as an officer, the person becomes an officer ‘island wide’.
He explained that City Police officers are not limited to making arrests in the four Castries constituencies but are ‘officers of the state’ working with the office of the Mayor.
“The law tells you clearly that it is the Commissioner of Police who will authorise whether they can carry guns or not,” the Mayor stated.
He said the law even allows the Police Chief to direct a City Police officer to perform duties of the regular police.
“So for instance if we have a strike or we have some form of unrest, the Commissioner of Police does not even have to ask us for our permission – he has the right to detail these officers, but obviously he would inform us. But it is not as if we have to give him a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’,” Francis said.
He declared that the government has not provided the Mayor with an army.
“Everybody believes now that it’s too much power fr the Mayor, but before they were saying that the City Police were illegal. But now the legislation has passed to regularise or make sure there is no ambiguity in that, now people are saying that they have too much power,” the Mayor stated.