“I am not going to retire and I urge all my members not to retire as well nor resign, we must fight this.”
This is the call of Station Sergeant Brenton Smith to the men and women of the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (RSVGPF) in a Facebook live broadcast last Friday.
Smith noted in the near hour long broadcast that “some have already retired”, and he wished them well, “some have resigned not knowing where they are going to get their next bread and butter from, not knowing how their mortgage will be paid but as a matter of principle and as a matter of freedom and their rights they decided to.”
He was commenting on SR&O #28-The Public Health (Public bodies Special Measures) Rules of 2021 which took effect last Friday, November 19 and mandates certain groups of workers to take a COVID-19 vaccine in order to continue working in their respective jobs.
Smith, who declared his independence of thought, commended his colleagues “Who have decided to stick it through against tyrannic[al] behaviours and for those who did not allow it to get to them”.
“Those who have decided to stand up and fight back to maintain their basic human rights of freedom, this is a fundamental right given to us by God and you should… never allow any man to take that away from you”.
To those “who were not so strong and decided to take the vaccine because of the pressure, I understand you and while it is sad I do understand, I love you no less.”
The police officer went on to “implore those who decided to take the vaccine to stand with those who have taken the decision to fight against, or fight for our freedom and against tyranny. “Stand with us and be counted, do not carry out anyone’s mandate to beat up or apply force to those who have decided to stand up for their constitutional right. Stand with us because today might be the vaccine tomorrow might be someone else”.
While the SR&O officially came into force last Friday November 19, an official within the Ministry of Health stated on national television that night that a two day stay was being put into effect to allow more persons to get vaccinated over the weekend, hence the mandate actually took effect from yesterday Monday, November 22.
SEARCHLIGHT has learnt that up to 91 per cent of officers in the SSVGPF had been vaccinated up to Monday of this week, The Station sergeant said he received calls on Friday from colleagues “saying that some senior officers are calling asking them to resign before the 19th otherwise they’re going to lose their benefits…we’re in a sad state the national security of this land is in a sad state,” Smith said with passion.
He commented as well on information indicating that in excess of one thousand members of the RSVGPF had received a vaccine; and the Prime Minister’s assertion that in the event of a reduced number of officers the RSVGPF can function effectively with a complement of 800.
“We even can’t manage on 11 hundred plus much more to less; this statement is very irresponsible…to say the least,”Smith asserted.
Making reference to International standards of having one police officer for every 100 citizens, Smith asked his listeners to do the math with respect to the situation locally if the Force operates with fewer rather than more officers. He made an appeal for civil society “to assist us in this fight”, and “ let your voices be heard”; for parents to keep on the alert as the authorities will soon have their children in their sights. As for the churches, Smith said they also will not escape and pointed out that this “is an opportune time for the church to bring back the people of SVG together…”
The officer of 27 years used his broadcast to also speak of improvements in the circumstances of the police, noting that credit must be given where it is due but that there are many things which cry out for attention.
And he called on all who have taken or not taken a vaccination to join in what he said was a fight for justice, “because this is not a fight against the vaccinated and unvaccinated, this is a constitutional matter of freedom of expression, freedom of conscience…and it “is important that those too be counted fight for justice”.
The Police Welfare Association president made it clear that this was not a personal fight, but a fight for all officers, including senior colleagues who have called in their quiet moments sharing their dissatisfaction with what is happening in the organization.
“I am prepared to go home,” Smith declared as he appealed to the authorities to “…let go of my men and women in the organization, give them the freedom so that they can go and do what they do best, policing”.