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Ex-NNP government minister: Keith Mitchell is to blame for breakdown in police force

Dr. Keith Mitchell - has over the years hand-picked a number of persons to sit in the chair set aside for the Commissioner of Police

A former government minister in the defeated New National Party (NNP) administration of Keith Mitchell has fingered the ex-Grenadian leader as the person to take most of the blame for the deterioration of standards within the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) over the years.

Speaking to THE NEW TODAY on Thursday, the ex-minister said that the drop in standards came about largely from the policy decision of the NNP regime to allow police officers to start operating private buses to transport the public, as well as becoming major owners and operators of rum shops in just about every village on the island.

He said that these two things contributed significantly to the breakdown of law and order in the country as police officers lost the moral authority to correct any wrongdoing taking place in Grenada.

“Keith Mitchell did that and that is why Keith Mitchell cannot come back in power,” he added.

The NNP boss who has dominated the political landscape of Grenada for nearly 30 years was voted out of office in June 2022 by a newlook National Democratic Congress (NDC) outfit headed by 46-year old attorney-at-law Dickon Mitchell.

According to the ex-NNP government minister, it was a major error under the rule of Dr. Mitchell to allow police officers to operate rum shops and to “go behind bars and sell rum to the public.”

He said this atmosphere created the conditions for police officers “to curse people when the day comes” during the process of running their own private businesses, especially these run shops.

“That destroyed the police force and that destroyed Grenada,” he quipped.

The ex-government minister under the NNP regime charged that too many police officers have private buses running on the road and in the process have lost the moral authority to control traffic and adhere to traffic laws and regulations.

He said these particular police officers are among the worst violators of the traffic laws of the country.

He added that it is not uncommon that when a traffic cop stops a bus for violating the traffic law, the driver of the vehicle is either a policeman or the bus is owned by a police officer.

“When you stop an overloaded bus, a bus that is speeding, either a policeman driving it or it belongs to a policeman – how are you going to enforce the law?”

The ex-government minister pointed at the kind of atmosphere that is normally prevailing in a rum shop as “anything goes and takes place there – man doing anything when night comes.”

He said it is not uncommon to find out that a policeman owns the rum shop, a policeman is often seen inside it selling, as well as the possibility that the wife of a policeman along with him are the two persons seen behind the counter selling to the public.

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It is this kind of activity involving the police officer that is helping to breed “the ill-discipline in the country.”

“Those are things that people have to honour and respect but when it comes to discipline of the country and the police who have to enforce it can’t, because they are compromised and the society is compromised under the police. Until these things are corrected we have nowhere going.

The ex-NNP government minister feared that administrations, governments would come and go in Grenada but the country “have nowhere going.”

He said the current Congress government of Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell should look at increasing the salaries and benefits to police officers as an inducement to get them out of their current activities to just hustle to bring in more money into their homes.

He urged the administration to give the police officers certain allowances to improve their lives and to stop them from engaging in the type of activities that only serve to destroy the society.

Morale is said to be at an all-time low among police officers under the watch of current head of RGPF, Don McKenzie.

The ex-NNP official also told THE NEW TODAY that the lack of a public transport system has exposed “all our youths and children to private buses and the horrors of private buses and private owners.”

He said the private buses have contributed to a deterioration in the discipline of the school children on the island.

He recalled that the use of public buses were initiated by the Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) government of former Prime Minister Eric Gairy and would come to the school and pick up children and drop them back home in their villages.

He said that children would be able to reach home very early from school, do all their house chores and even tend to their animals and still had time to engage in sporting activities in their villages before nightfall.

The ex-government minister lamented that school children are now seen all hours of the day and even late in the day waiting on the side of the road to get a private bus to take them back home.

“Children staying by the road the whole time waiting on the bus and when they reach home it is 6 o’clock.”

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