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The Police Marine Unit

By Sergeant Joseph St. Brice
(Marine Unit)

A bound of circumstance unites all men of the sea, a common understanding gels them
together in a unique and inescapable fellowship of hearts and minds. It is only the valiant persons, that endure life through the ravages of the ocean, perhaps the most inimical place on earth. For the weak and faint hearted soon succumb to the intimidation of the blue expanse of sheer madness, cocooned in unimaginable greatness. Yes, greatness, for therein lies the greatest of all paradoxes, for the most unfriendly frontier known to man is also a place of solitude and peace, a place where true men find their souls, a friendly place offering live, and food for generations unending.

To this untamable habitat of man and beast, comes a breed of men, groomed for service, united in sprit, dedicated to the ideals of securing a greater tomorrow for the prosperity of a nation. Born out of necessity, and circumstance, weaned in a hostile environment, the Police Marine Unit has blossomed and borne fruit. The pride of a fraternity, the bedrock upon which a pillar of many an august institution of our society rest, this Unit symbolizes progression within the Police Service, hope within our society, its advent heralding the winds of change within many sectors.

Comprising of some forty-eight men, seven vessels, and two bases, the Marine Unit forms an integral section of the Royal St. Lucia Police Force and perhaps is its largest department. The new drive by the Police Service in St. Lucia into community policing is not new to the unit, as its whole thrust must be community policing by virtue of its mandate and the section of the citizenry it is obligated to serve in its entirety. Over the years a lot of emphasis has been placed on the education of the fishing communities, building and consolidating a relationship with the various sub-sectors within the Maritime environment and rendering a unique but necessary brand of Police Service to the nation. It can be said of the unit with a bit of intrepidity that the economic throbs or woes of many sectors within the revenue belt of this nation, rest on the shoulders of the performance or non-performance of this unit.

So embedded is this unit within the fabric of every major government institution in this country, that it is almost unimaginable for any economic growth with the absence of this unit. The tourism sector now the backbone of the St. Lucia economy, is dependant on the services, of this department for the sustainability of its Maritime programme, an area still experiencing growth, yet one of its most viable revenue earners. The department of Agriculture, the lifeblood of the nation, and the most dynamic catalyst for change and growth within the local populace, places heavy demand upon it for the preservation of the country’s Maritime resources, a resource having the potential to be the next frontier for economic sustainability of the society.

The Ministry of Justice no doubt depends on the unit to meet the ministry’s mandate as the custodian of the government’s commitment to its international obligations within the sphere of Maritime affairs. The Ministry of Finance through its revenue collection agency, the Department of Customs, relies on the unit to ensure that government is not deprived of badly needed revenue due to the activities of unscrupulous Maritime characters. The list goes on and on.

The unit’s greatest task, and its primary objective and bulk of its work however, is the preservation of life at sea. This ties in very neatly with a subsection of general police responsibilities, which reads, “The Preservation of Life and Property.” However, the difference comes in two areas, one: unlike the general Police Force where a lot of emphasis has to be placed on Law Enforcement in the form of crime prevention in order to maintain peace, whereby life can be preserved, and two: where the preservation of property goes hand in hand with the preservation of life, the unit’s national and international obligation, rests primarily with the preservation of life. This is due to the environment in which the department has to operate. The preservation of property is not a primary obligation in this environment, though it is desirable, and every effort will be made to do this, but circumstances by far will dictate the decision for or against the preservation of property.

Throughout the tenure of this department, numerous lives have been saved that would perhaps otherwise have been lost. In what is sometimes the most adverse of conditions, the unit has been called upon to place the lives of its members at great risk in order to secure the lives of others. On every occasion these men have selflessly, with unwavering conviction, and undeniable commitment, rendered what to them is a service of love. The bravery and commitment of these dedicated men and women will one day be sung in the hamlets, villages, towns and cities of this country. For, every fishing community can testify to the difference that these men have made in their lives. The zeal that goes into a Search and Rescue effort, the frustrations and disappointments that are apparent when a successful Search and Rescue mission is not feasible for whatever reason, and the joy and exhilaration expressed without reservation at every successful effort, is a testimony of how highly these men view life, even the life of the humblest of our nations citizenry or the most delinquent of them.

 

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