October 14, 2005
Harry: People don’t appreciate when things are done differently

After 36 years of service in the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, outgoing Commissioner of Police William Harry has passed the baton over to the new Commissioner Keith Miller. But what has the police force been like for the retired head of the local constabulary?

Searchlight gets his perspective on the questions you wanted to ask.{{more}}

• Q: In your speech you mentioned that every stage in life has an entrance and an exit. How would you have liked to have exited? Was this the way you wanted?

• A: My exit was perfect, the job is finished and I have moved on.

• Q: What would you have done differently?

• A: If I had to relive life…I would have liked to have qualified myself earlier. I procrastinated to study, but eventually I went on. So I would encourage young officers to seize the opportunities and better themselves educationally, specifically to do with the standard in the police service.

• Q: You mentioned in your outgoing speech that you have no enemies, why send this statement?

• A: The way I see it, society wants you to do things, in the way they want it done. There is no respect for people and a person’s initiative. If what you do doesn’t agree with them, you become enemy number one. You can’t have two people doing the same job, once it is understood what is required and the same goal is in mind, tolerance should be shown. But today too many people don’t appreciate when things are done differently.

•l Q: You talk about your faith and God quite a lot. What was the most critical moment in your career that you really had to seek your faith?

• A: Well…I can give you three occasions that shook me up. The first was one day when I was leaving my office and I had my pistol in my briefcase. I bent down to take up the briefcase and the pistol fell out and a shot let off and ended up in my seat.

The next occasion was a Sunday morning when I was called by the then Commissioner to go to Bequia to help in a hostage situation. A man had held his wife and children at gun point. I convinced him to let me into his home. He came to the front with the gun to the head of his wife. As I walked to the gate and bent down to unlock the bolt a special service officer climbed over the wall, his gun which was cocked fell and the bullet ended up in front of me and piece of concrete ended up in my nose.

• Q: So what was the third incident?

• A: I was appointed to act as Commissioner in 1997, when I came back from Belize I was called and asked to go on leave. A few days later a press conference was called to appoint someone else as Commissioner; that was the turning point for me to do my studies

• Q: You said that you had challenges from 1997-2001. What was that period about?

• A: That was the third challenge that I just talked to you about, but everything happened as God planned it.

• Q: You said that you were called names like Jack Spaniard. How did that make you feel?

• A: It never bothered me, people thought that it would have been upsetting but we all have a role to play. And it is important to know how to resolve conflict.

• Q: You noted that issues like drugs and money laundering are problems of today. What were your problems back then as a young officer?

• A: Incidents like dirty words, squabbles, fights with cutlasses and knives but today things have really escalated. Marijuana was heard of once in a while, cocaine was unleashed in the 70’s but today things have really changed.

• Q: What is your happiest moment?

• A: (Laughs) No one moment really, I always took everything in stride and was never really anxious about anything. But my younger days in the service are moments which I look back and cherish. There are things I have done to improve national development, which I cannot talk about.

• Q: Your race has ended as Commissioner, what other baton will William Harry “the man” be taking up now that you are retired?

• A: I have a few things in mind. I have more time to devout to my Christian faith, but I am praying to God to direct me. Maybe I would do Theology or go into business, but I want to serve the public, especially for the young people. They need to show more respect and improve their social graces, other than that I am giving myself sometime to really relax.