As Vincentians prepare to elect a new government, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves is urging police officers to conduct themselves professionally, saying that politicians do not respect partisan cops.
“We’re going to have an election shortly. I want to say this: Policemen and women are entitled to their own opinion and their own choices but what they are not entitled to do is use the police station and in the conduct of their duties as hubs of political propaganda, and worse, in the conduct of their duties, they function in a partisan political manner,” Gonsalves said at a conference of non-commissioned officers this week.
“That is not your business. You are professionals. You have your opinions. You could talk about them among your friends. You are going on Facebook, be circumspect, you are going on social media, be circumspect. And don’t make it the be all and end all,” the Minister of National Security said.
“Because I tell you this, I want to give you an insight into the mind of a politician. This is why a number of men and women who suck up to politicians and behave more politician than politician that when the politician get in office, they don’t respect them and they don’t consider them for elevation.
“Because, invariably, a man or women who is so overly enthusiastic one way or another, you begin to wonder whether he wants to use politics to advance. And a policeman or woman who wants to use politics to advance would be like a razor blade, he could cut both ways,” Gonsalves said to a spatter of applause.
Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party (ULP) will seek a fourth consecutive term in office in elections he said will be called before year-end, ahead of the March 2016 deadline.
He noted his experience in politics, saying he has participated in every general election since Independence in 1979.
“I am asking you, please, to be very professional. I don’t want those of you who not supporting the ULP when you meet me or anybody else to heap scorn on our head, because if you do that to me, I will just give you love, because you are making yourself unprofessional, and I take note.
“Similarly, I will take note if you show disrespect to Arnhim Eustace and the candidate of the NDP….
“I really want you to be very professional, and even when the temperatures rise, ask yourself, ‘Am I being a professional? …” Gonsalves said.
The main opposition New Democratic Party is expected to present the strongest challenge to the Gonsalves government, which holds 8 of the 15 parliamentary seats, while the NDP controls the remaining seven.