Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre, responsible for National Security, has reiterated his commitment to providing the resources the police need to fight crime.
And clarifying his role in relation to the Commissioner of Police, Pierre told parliament on Thursday that he cannot instruct the top cop on operational matters.
But he observed that the Minister could create an enabling environment for the police to do their work and provide policy guidance.
He stated that the Commissioner determines all ranks from constable to inspector,
“Ranks from Inspector to Assistant Commissioner and to Commissioner are determined by the Public Service Commission,” Pierre told parliament.
“The Police Commissioner can tell the Minister of National Security to go to hell and that’s a fact and we must understand where our history goes,” Pierre stated.
He recalled that a Police Commissioner took the government to court after he was removed and the court ordered his reinstatement.
“And if that Commissioner of Police wasn’t a man of conscience he could have gone and sat down in police headquarters and nobody could move him. That is a history Mr. Speaker – that is a history that I will not follow,” Pierre told parliament as he concluded the debate on the budget.
“What happened? The government in its wisdom and because he cooperated he was made Special Advisor in National Security,” the Castries East MP noted about the case.
Pierre explained that the Minister of National Security cannot instruct the Commissioner of Police to do anything but can speak to the top law enforcement officer and discuss matters with him.
He observed that the constitution does not allow the Minister to instruct the Commissioner.
“What the Prime Minister can do, he can go to the public and dismiss the Commissioner for the public interest,” the PM explained.
Pierre spoke amidst national concern over violent crime resulting in 17 homicides this year.
He said the government was creating an enabling environment for the police.
Pierre noted that in the eight months that his administration has been in power, the police received thirteen vehicles.
“And before the next term is over they’re going to get forty more vehicles to do their work,” he disclosed to desk thumping from MPs on the government side.
In addition, Pierre cited $300,000 in the budget to upgrade the forensic services unit and $2.27 million for a ‘swift justice’ project to reduce the backlog of criminal cases, including murder matters, by appointing new judges and support staff.
He said this would assist the police, who are frustrated when they arrest someone and cannot get the suspect to court.
Pierre listed other measures to assist the police.
They included $260,000 in the budget to provide police equipment and an additional $4 million to repair police stations and improve police working conditions.