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 History Of The Royal Saint Lucia Police Force

In 1831, the first act of Government for the then British Crown Colony of St. Lucia, makes mention a Charter of Justice, a Royal Court and a Court of Police. The Police Force in Saint Lucia was actually established in 1834, only five years after the formation of the very first Police Force as we know them today, in London, England, by Sir Robert Peel. Prior to that, the military was probably the only form of law enforcement agency, during the alternating periods of French and British rule. Initially, the Force was headed by an Inspector who was assisted by 3 Sergeants and a contingent of 24 Corporals and Constables – a total of 28 men. The Inspector had to perform the confusing duties of Magistrate by taking depositions in criminal cases and acting as a prosecutor in Court.

In the 1880s, W.P. Roches held the post of Inspector. However, when J. Jukes-Hughes took over in 1891, he styled himself Chief of Police. In April 1902, the Secretary of States appointed E.D. Laborde – then Chief of Police in St. Vincent – as the new Chief of Police in St. Lucia. He also took a seat on the Legislative Council.
Over the years, the establishment of the Force increased and the title of the Head of the Force was upgraded to Senior Superintendent of Police, at the end of the Second World War.
By 1946, Major E.O. Plunkett, was the Senior Superintendent in command of the Force. The authorised establishment of the Force was now 171. The headquarters staff consisted of a Lance Corporal, 2 Constables and one Civil Sergeant (third class). Major Plunkett reported that he continued to experience difficulty in attaining the right standard to recruit to the Force, as most suitable young men were attracted to work in the oil fields of the Dutch Antilles. Some 1,923 reports of crime were made that year but no murders were recorded. 3,697 Fer-de-lance snake heads were handed into police for reward (at 1 shilling each or 25 cents EC in today’s terms.)
There was a total of 273 licensed motor vehicles on the island. Major E.O. Plunkett reported that a lack of police transport (police had no vehicles at all then) and poor communications continued to be a serious problem, although there were plans to upgrade the standard of the island’s police stations.
The Senior Superintendent performed the role of Inspector of Prisons and was in charge of the Royal Goal.
He was also Chief Immigration Officer and Superintendent of the Fire Brigade. He was the licensing authority for drivers, vehicles, vessels, radios, firearms, butchers, and administered the Weights and Measures Act. It was reported that during that year, the Force had been relieved of the burden of Poor Law Relief – this duty having been taken over by the Social Welfare Officer, although a number of N.C.Os at out-stations, continued to act as Assistant Relieving Officers.
In 1953, the then Head of the Force, Lt. Col. E.M.V. James, departed on appointment as Commissioner of Police of the Leeward Islands. Shortly afterwards, Lt. Col. W. Farmer, was appointed to lead the Force.
That December, Capt. L.N. Alfonson, an ASP, took a squad of 20 police officers to Grenada to assist the local police there to deal with disturbances. However, this was the reverse of a situation earlier in the year when 31 police officers came from Grenada, to assist St. Lucia in policing a strike by sugar workers in the Dennery area.
By then, the Force vehicle fleet was one bus, one Station Wagon, two Morris pick-ups, one Austin pick-up and two motor cycles.


TRAINING


Police training was initially carried out in a rather simple form, compared to the 6 months initial course of training, existing today.
It started in 1947, in the building opposite Police Headquarters (what is known as Du Boulay Bottling Company Limited). The instructors were Staff Sergeant Gregg and Corporal Monlouis. Amongst the first 25 recruits were, Stanley Scholar and Eseube Lawrence who were both subsequently appointed Commissioner of Police.

The venue of the school changed after the 1948 Castries fire, to the barracks at Police Headquarters. It was subsequently changed to Beanfield, Vieux Fort. On the 15th of October 1954, the Force moved its Training School premises to a building known as “Degazon House” at Morne Fortune, Castries. This building currently houses Radio St. Lucia. Recruit training ceased in St. Lucia in 1956, when the Regional Police Training School opened at Seawell in Barbados. From time to time, officers of the Force have been seconded to Seawell as instructors.

 

In 1981, because of insufficient places being available in Barbados, the Force opened its own Training School at its present location at La Toc, Castries.
In 1956, Mr. Farmer was transferred to Trinidad & Tobago and on the 11th of April, Mr. David Douglas Mc Goun, assumed the leadership of the Force. It was also during that year that the Special Reserve was authorised and formed.
Later under the stewardship of Mr. Mc Goun, there was much dissatisfaction within the Force, particularly amongst some of the lower ranks. It was felt that local officers were being overlooked in promotions and that the men were not being properly treated overall. This came at a time of political difficulties in the then colony and emotions ran high.
From May 1961, the “St. Lucia Herald” started to publish articles deeply critical of Mr. Mc Goun’s leadership of the Force. In July 1961, the famous ‘Black Book’ appeared (so called because of the colour of its cover). It was published by the Central Committee of the Welfare Association. The walls of Police Headquarters were daubed with slogans against Gazetted Officers.

On 23rd August1961, Mr. Mc Goun was taken ill and entered hospital. On the 11th of September 1961, Mr. Winfred Farmer returned to St.Lucia, to take over the leadership of the Force. It was a tense situation then, as a proposed demonstration was planned for that day. Mr. Farmer managed to persuade the Force that it was not in their long term interest to do so. Mr. Farmer left St. Lucia on the 24th of September 1961, and Mr. Lynch-Wade, the then Deputy took over command of the Force. On that very day, a Commission of Enquiry was appointed to enquire into the actions taken by the local officers. That Commission was headed by Justice J.W.B. Cherry, Mr. Robin Struthers – a Trinidad businessman, a former Chief Superintendent of the Metropolitan Police in London and two local businessmen. The enquiry concluded in October 1961.

On the 2nd of November 1961, Mr. Mc Goun resumed his duties from sick leave. Discipline broke down completely, with a number of members of the Force refusing to work under his leadership. On Saturday 4th November 1961, the situation grew steadily worse with numerous sick reports and keys to offices not being found. Telecommunications were put out of order. At 1.00pm, Mr. Mc Goun was sent on leave and Mr. Lynch-Wade resumed his acting stewardship of the Force.
On the 3rd of January 1962, Mr. Frederick Cannon, former ACP i/c Crime of the British Guiana Police Force, arrived in St. Lucia and assumed command as Chief of Police.
On the 6th of January 1962, another Commission of Enquiry was appointed to enquire into the events of the 2nd to 4th November 1961, under Sir Erick Halliman. Both Cherry and Halliman reported on the 12th of February 1962. Subsequently, disciplinary action was taken against some of the ring leaders and others were called upon to retire.
Under Cannon's leadership, morale in the Force seems to have improved and normality returned.
In 1963, Mr. Cannon reported the regular strength of the Force to be 245 officers, with 16 civilian employees and 50 Special Reserves. Mr. Cannon was the only Caucasian officer (although he was a Guyanese national) and whilst the majority of the members of the Force were St. Lucian nationals, there were members from British Guiana, Barbados, Dominica, St. Vincent, French Guiana, Antigua, Nevis and Montserrat. The total number of crimes reported was 3,862.
Chairmanship of the Film Censorship Board was another function the Chief of Police then had to perform.
.The police fleet consisted of 2 buses, 3 Station Wagons, 5 land Rovers and 8 motor cycles, excluding Fire Brigade appliances. In 1965, a new Police Ordinance was published and this remains in effect, albeit in amended form, today. Force Standing Orders were also published during that year but there was a revision of those Standing Orders in 1990.

Also in 1965, 3 members of the Force were seconded to Ascension Island for police duty .In February 1966, Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Phillip, visited St. Lucia. Then the word ROYAL was bestowed on the title of the Force. The title was then ROYAL ST. LUCIA POLICE FORCE. Mr. Cannon was also decorated by the Queen on admission to membership of the Royal Victorian Order. On the 1st of March 1967, St. Lucia became an Associated State in association with Great Britain. The responsibility of the Force passed from the Administrator to the Honourable Premier. On this date, Mr. Samuel H. Brooks, an Antiguan, assumed command of the Force and was the first to be designated Commissioner of Police.

Mr. Cannon had left St. Lucia after the midnight ceremony of Statehood, along with Mr. Gerald Bryan, the last Administrator of St. Lucia, on board the symbolically departing British warship. In 1967, the Police Credit Union was formed. In 1972, Mr. Stanley Clement Scholar succeeded Mr. Brookes as Commissioner of Police. He was the first St. Lucian to command the Force. In 1976, Mr. Scholar was succeeded by Mr. Emesly L. Pierre who commanded the Force until 1979. He was subsequently appointed Commissioner of Police in his native Dominica.
On the 9th of August 1979, Mr. Euzebe A. Lawrence was appointed Commissioner of Police. He held that post until he retired in October 1982.
On the 2nd of October 1982, Mr. Cuthbert D. Phillips was appointed Commissioner of Police upon Mr. Lawrence's retirement.
In 1983, members of the Special Services Unit of the Force, served in the United States led military action in Grenada.
On the 3rd of May 1984, the Marine Unit of the Force received a 65 ft. vessel named “Defender” from the USA for Coast Guard duties. Initially, 3 US Coast Guardsmen trained the Marine Unit but subsequently, officers of the British Royal Navy assisted in its operational role.
“Defender” joined the Marine Unit’s other vessel, “Helen II” which was donated by the Canadian Government in 1981. In 1986, whilst undergoing sea trials, “Helen II” unfortunately caught fire and was completely destroyed.
In 1986, the establishment of the Force was 490, the Band 46, Marine Unit 38 with 19 civilians employed. There were 38 police vehicles in serviceable condition.
In January 1988, a Commission of Enquiry was appointed to review the Administration, Command and Discipline of the Force, under the chairmanship of Mr. Karl Hudson-Phillips, assisted by Mr. Eustace Bernard, former Commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago.
They reported in August 1988. As a result of their report, Mr. Phillips and two senior members of the Force were retired with immediate effect in the interest of efficiency.

In October 1988, Mr. Clive Sealy, a former acting Commissioner of Police in Trinidad and Tobago, was appointed Commissioner of Police. He served until the 31st of December 1991, when he proceeded on pre-retirement leave. On the 1st of January 1992, Mr. Algeron W. F. Hemmingway, a retired Police Commander of the Metropolitan Police, was appointed Commissioner of Police. After Mr. Hemmingway’s tenure, other Commissioners of Police included, Mr. Vernon Augustin, Francis Nelson and Brian Bernard.

PRESENT ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE

The Royal St. Lucia Police Force is headed by Ausbert Regis, Commissioner of Police. He is assisted by three Assistant Commissioners of Police. One Assistant Commissioner of Police is responsible for Community Policing (Territorial Policing) and Training. Another is responsible for Crime, Discipline and Prosecutions, whilst the third has responsibility for Operations. There is also an Administrative Officer who has responsibility for the support services related to the Police Force.
As at September 2003, the Royal St. Lucia Police Force had an establishment of nine hundred and forty seven (947) Officers with an actual compliment of eight hundred and thirty one (831). The Establishment and Strength include regular Police Officers and Special Police Constables. Special Constables generally perform the same duties as regular Police Officers. They are, however, subject to a contract which is renewable every three years. It should also be noted that the Police Establishment in St. Lucia includes the Coast Guard, Band, and Immigration.
For territorial purposes, the island of St. Lucia is divided into Northern and Southern Divisions. Northern Division comprises of eight Police Stations whilst Southern Division comprises of five Police Stations. Each Division is headed by a Superintendent of Police.