Desir responds to viral videos of police and civilian confrontation
Acting Commissioner of Police Milton Desir
Acting Commissioner of Police Milton Desir addressed the nation on viral videos of an 'alleged altercation' involving police officers and civilians during an appearance on the NTN/GIS program earlier today, Thursday, May 7, 2020.
Desir began saying: “The Royal St Lucia Police Force is privy to videos being in circulation of an incident which may have transpired at a location in the vicinity of Union. It would appear that police officers were addressing a situation of social distancing at a party in progress.”
The top cop noted that under the Emergency Powers COVID-19 Curfew orders, private parties are not allowed. He also noted an order dictating the requirement of wearing masks in public. He said the penalty for breaching the order is 6 months in prison and/or a $1000 fine.
He continued: “This incident is of concern to us, especially since it would appear that members of the police force were in attendance. The Royal St Lucia Police Force condemns this sort of behaviour and have launched an investigation into this incident. I must commend, at this point, Sargeant Xavier and his response team, in the calm manner in which they dealt with the situation.
We are actively pursuing these individuals and are calling upon them to report themselves to the CID today or else the police will find them. I will not allow the hard work of the police in maintaining law and order, especially during this COVID period, to be diminished by a few who appears to be on the other side of the law.”
Desir was asked why no arrests were made considering the breaches as well as threats made by a citizen to an officer. He defended the decision as the correct one noting that it was the judgment of the officer in charge who assessed that the number of persons, as well as the behaviour on display, could have led to a difficult situation if the arrest was made at the time.
Desir spoke to the attendance of the illegal party by officers and said: "we will deal with every person as an individual," and as such, officers would receive the exact same treatment as civilians who breached the order.
Desir also said that there is a trial ongoing with police body cameras which may be of good use in such events going forward.