Three years ago, St. Lucia’s former Minister of Home Affairs and National Security, Guy Mayers and police chief Vernon Francois met with Toronto Police Service (TPS) deputy chief Peter Sloly at headquarters to explore opportunities for assistance in the wake of a sharp increase in violent crimes on the Eastern Caribbean island.
“We want to build a relationship with Toronto Police that will help us strengthen our service,” Mayers said at the time. “One of the things I would like to see is that our officers acquire specialized training by going overseas and working on a short-term basis with police services in Canada, the United States and England. That’s something we are pushing for to boost our police force.”
Francois agreed with Mayers, saying he would welcome collaboration between his organization and the TPS, which has always been at the forefront in the use of the latest cutting edge technology to aid investigations.
Earlier this month, Sergeant Marcus George of the Royal St. Lucia Police Force returned home with a wealth of knowledge after spending eight weeks enhancing his forensic science skills.
“The consul general in Toronto (Michael Willius) had concerns because about two-thirds of firearms offences in St. Lucia were not solved due to lack of scientific expertise,” said TPS deputy chief Mark Saunders. “When he asked if there was anything that our Service could do, I thought about it. I knew we had an examiners course. It was more for the province of Ontario, but this province has some of the highest standards for that particular science and we have some of the best examiners in the country. So I took it upon myself to see if we could create a space to have an officer from outside Canada attend.”
Willius gladly accepted the offer.
“When Marcus approached me for special training in forensic science and ballistics to improve his skills and to give the St. Lucia police greater capacity to deal with gun violence, I reached out to Toronto Police because I know they have the people with expertise in this area,” said Willius.
Two days before returning home on July 11, George and Willius paid a courtesy call on Saunders at police headquarters to thank him and the Service for the training opportunity.
“The St. Lucian officer was so happy with the knowledge and wisdom he gained and the level of expertise we were able to offer him,” said Saunders. “He now has so many more tools in his tool box. We will have a continued relationship with him to make sure he has the necessary skills, ability and resources. This follow-up will ensure that he becomes the starting point for successes that St. Lucia will have with firearms investigations now.”
A police officer for the last 24 years, George said he’s now better equipped to perform his duties as head of his Service’s firearms section.
“The training here was pretty intense and rewarding and I now have a wealth of knowledge,” he said. “The experience gained while working a shift rotation was invaluable and I was treated with dignity and respect by Toronto Police while being made to feel that I was part of the team.”
George participated in the one-week firearms examiners course facilitated by the Guns and Gangs Task Force where he was exposed to firearms identification, testing and verification and the five-week Forensic Identification Services (FIS) Scene of Crime Officer program.
By RON FANFAIR