COP Michael Charles, left, presenting a gift to SOP Stenelia Francis.

Stenelia Francis, the first female to attain the rank of Superintendent of Police (SOP) in the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, has proceeded on pre-retirement leave.

Francis leaves active duty after a period of 36 years and 8 months. She will officially retire in November 2015.

Commissioner of Police Michael Charles lauded Francis for her service to the Police Force and to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Charles, who said he knew Francis prior to her becoming a police officer, said: “There comes a time in all of our lives that the road we trod in a given time will come to an end. I’ll add the end of a sojourn. She has given yeomen service.”

The police chief described Francis as a hard worker and said he wished her all the best in her future endeavours.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Godfred Pompey, said the ministry, and minister, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, appreciate the hard work that Francis rendered during her tenure.

Kind sentiments were also expressed made by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Reynold Hadaway, and Assistant Commissioners of Police, Frankie Joseph, Carlos Sampson and Brenton Cain.

SOP Ruth Jacobs, head of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID, noted that prior to 2012, no female police officer had ever attained the rank of SOP.

“SOP Francis paved the way for women to attain the rank of SOP. I thank you for your service to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and to the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force.”

SOP Ruth Jacobs, left presenting a plaque to SOP Stenelia Francis.
SOP Ruth Jacobs, left presenting a plaque to SOP Stenelia Francis.

SOP Kamecia Blake-Byam told Francis that it was a pleasure working with her. She implored Francis to enjoy her retirement and be happy. “You paved the way for me and I’ll pave the way for others,” Blake-Byam promised.

Francis said she was employed as a teacher with a monthly salary of $198 when the opportunity to be a police officer came her way. She recalled that a constable’s salary was quite attractive when compared to that of other professions, though it was $390.

Shortly after Francis left teaching, she travelled to Barbados to receive her initial training as a police officer.

“When the training hit me in Barbados, I asked myself what I had gotten myself into,” said Francis as she spoke of the rigours of her law enforcement training programme. She said that she dug deep within herself and eventually persevered to successfully complete the programmes.

She said that after 36 years serving her country as a police officer, retirement offers her a new beginning.

“Those hobbies I could not do while I was working as a police officer, I will use the opportunity to do that now.”

Francis also plans to use her time winning souls for God. “I have locked up many people for this organisation, now I am going to lock up souls for Jesus.”

Giving a parting advice to her colleagues, Francis challenged them to give their all to Jesus. She told the members of the Officer Corp that if they give their all to Jesus, their reward will be great.

During her tenure, Francis served at the Traffic Department for 24 years before serving as the Divisional Commander for Central and Eastern Divisions.