The death of a pregnant Immigration Officer and her unborn child has forced Saint Lucia’s Top Cop to call on all unvaccinated members of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) to vaccinate.
Commissioner Milton Desir made the call Monday after confirmation of the pregnant officer’s death last week and news that over 150 police officers were in quarantine, leaving several police stations either closed or operating on less-than-skeleton-staff.
Police and health officials confirmed the death of Immigration Officer Krisandra Reynolds-Fevriere, a Woman Police Constable (WPC) for two years, but stopped short of confirming whether she was vaccinated.
However, her death in the midst of growing calls for mandatory vaccination of “frontline” public officers and health workers regionally has sparked grave interest among her fellow police officers.
Besides uncertainty as to whether she was vaccinated, the death also reminded fellow WPCs that women comprise 60% of the over-150 COVID deaths in Saint Lucia to date.
Commissioner Desir also disclosed Monday that “less than half” the force is vaccinated and repeated his earlier call for unvaccinated officers to change their status.
With as many police officers in quarantine as the number of dead victims nationally, officers and their families are also growing increasingly concerned – and in many cases, understandably worried.
The absence of active policing of the COVID protocols during the last two weeks of the 21-day election campaign in July was a marked difference from the situation just a few months earlier, when members of the special COVID Constabulary, established with police powers, gained a not-so-nice reputation for the way some handled alleged protocol violators.
Images of several uniformed constables manhandling a single suspect, chasing persons across fields or into churches for not wearing masks – and in one case of a Rastafarian’s “locks” locked-around an officer’s hand – attracted much criticism to the constabulary, until it was disbanded by the previous administration, allegedly after salaries were no longer available.
The Philip J. Pierre administration has limited the extent of contact between officers and potential violators by introducing a ticketing system to replace arrests, but like everywhere else in the public service, the Police Force also contains many officers who either refuse to vaccinate, are hesitant or still making their minds up.