USP Board: Police deserve more respect than that

Leader of the USP Frans Richardson (right) with President of the Board of the USP Cecil Nicholas.

A recent letter by an MP in your Saturday publication drew our interest.

The board of the United St. Maarten Party (USP) has a simple message it would like to share with the people of St. Maarten as it pertains to leadership and the role of Members of Parliament. It is noteworthy that a political party has included MP’s on their list who only underscore the party’s lack of leadership by clearly demonstrating that they too do not understand the expectations of their constituents.

Every MP, we are sure, understand the importance of the so-called “arms-length” approach when it comes to Ministers being given the space to execute their tasks. Every citizen however, also expects their MP’s to ensure that assurances given to the public are honored. This means simply that MP’s, who are elected by the people to improve their quality of life, must ensure that Ministers are fulfilling the mandate given to the MP’s by the people. It’s called leadership, not political intervention as the MP recently wrote.

Leadership in our system is not defined as getting elected to Parliament, appointing Ministers, and then never ensuring that the people are truly taken care of. An MP that prefers to quote regulations and use that as an excuse as to why the people’s business isn’t being taken care of, does not understand his or her role as an MP to always put people first. After a while, the only thing that comes from talking is sound. There will be point when the people expect you and the Ministers that are appointed by you, to act.

Taking veiled political jabs is one thing, but implying that police officers are politically impressionable and corruptible is quite another. You are definitely not a leader if you casually imply that any of our civil servants, in particular those in law enforcement, can’t execute their jobs effectively and in an unbiased manner if they know a particular MP and Minister with affiliation to a particular party has made sure that a promise made to them, is a promise kept. This is an insult to the men and women in blue.

Moreover, for an MP to state that “each citizen has the right to have confidence in law enforcement, knowing that it should be impartial and fair” is tantamount to telling citizens that if their party affiliation is different, they cannot trust a police officer to act on their behalf if the police officer and their colleagues receives the tools they need to fight crime from a Minister associated with a particular party. This is an extremely dangerous and irresponsible statement for an MP to make.

The MP continued by stating: “Once that stigma of politics is placed or the affiliation with a political party, then that confidence is broken and Lady Justice no longer wears that role of applying equal justice to all.” Now we are very aware that the MP has some challenges keeping her word, which is definitely not her bond, but we are very confident that our police officers do not see political colors when they put their lives on the line every day. They deserve more respect than having an MP put to question their professionalism.

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Officers were denied of their rightful positions for quite some time under the party the MP now represents. The USP assumed responsibility for the Ministry of Justice in February of this year and boldly said enough was enough. Let’s take care of our people. There is more work to be done, but we have delivered. We stepped in and didn’t look at anyone’s names or party color. We looked at the fact that they are our people who risk their lives for us every day.

Instead of congratulating the officers, the MP thought it more important to grind a political ax and decorate it in concerns for “separation of powers”.  The MP and the party she represents clearly prioritizes vindictive practices, politics, then people……in that order.

It is even more ironic that the MP would speak about “political influence” when the same MP is famous for vehemently defending the Minister she was responsible for in the not too distant past, as if she was actually sitting in the Minister’s chair. When you lack leadership or leadership skills and folks already know your “word” is meaningless, you need to be careful not to add “hypocrite” to the laundry list of descriptions.

The Board of the USP