St. John’s Antigua- Officers of the Royal Police Force of Antigua & Barbuda have been warned they would not be shielded from criminal prosecution if caught engaging in crime.
Speaking on behalf of Commissioner Vere Browne, Police Public Relations Officer Frankie Thomas said, “There is no carpet, no sheet, no blanket, broad nor thick enough to cover up any crime committed by a police officer and I want people to know and understand that contrary to perception, covering up will not happen.”
Corporal Thomas said the commissioner is very adamant the force will continue to serve the public, even if it means arresting one of their own for committing crime. Any officer who does not want to adhere to the rules should quit, Thomas said.
“If there are those among us who do not see themselves as part of the chain, then they can just break the link and hop off because we are called upon to perform duties such as to protect life and property not putting people in fear.
“We have a duty to make sure every citizen of Antigua & Barbuda is safe and secure and can go about their normal business without fear or idea the police cannot be trusted,” the police spokesman added.
As it relates to the five officers charged for varying offences so far this year, Corporal Thomas said the force would “lick its wounds” and move on.
The five junior ranking officers caught in breach of the law face charges from murder to aggravated robbery, theft to fraud and marijuana possession.
“One officer who finds himself before the court is one too many but the rest of us are committed to the task and we will not let that dampen our feelings,” the lawman said. “I guess the public has a right to make comments and be concerned, but we are good at rebounding. And if you watch the trend we will rebound.”
Meantime, National Security Minister Dr Errol Cort said he recently held a meeting with the Police Welfare Association (PWA), where the issue of police being involved in crime was discussed.
“I must say that the police officers do understand and appreciate that when any one amongst them is caught in the midst violating the law, that individual must be brought to answer the charges and be subject to the full enforcement of the law,” Dr Cort said.
He said notwithstanding the criminal matters involving police, the morale of the force remains high.
The minister said, “I believe they, as well as the government, fully accept and hold the view that it is in the interest of the force and the country to ensure that we have a clean, efficient and effective force with the highest degree of integrity.”