KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – This country’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Camillo Gonsalves, who was arrested by a cop in New York last month, has said that police excesses also exist here.
Gonsalves made the point last week in response to a comment from the floor at a town hall meeting where he discussed with Vincentians in New York his arrest by a cop there.
The member of the audience — an ex-cop in St. Vincent who said he was arrested in here six times last year “for stupidness” — said bigoted cops exist everywhere and many of them join the constabulary “with their own axes to grind”.
“You are absolutely right. New York and the United States do not have a monopoly on bad police,” Gonsalves said. “There are police everywhere in the world that commit abuses and every country has a responsibility to train their police better.
“And what we are talking about here is the New York City’s responsibility to train its police better in this context,” said Gonsalves, who noted the size of the diplomatic community in New York, where the United Nations headquarters is located.
Gonsalves, during the meeting, said that New York Police Department (NYPD) cops assigned to work at diplomatic facilities need to be better trained.
He said a senior NYPD cop who was summoned when he was arrested did not know what a U.N. diplomatic identification card looks like or what “Permanent Representative” means.
“When we are talking about the training that NYPD officers need and sensitivity, that doesn’t mean that we are saying we (in St. Vincent and the Grenadines) don’t have a plank in our eyes as well that we have to remove. ‘Cause all countries struggle with police brutality and the hope is that all of us get better and improve.”
Gonsalves, however, said that he thinks Vincentian Commissioner of Police Keith Miller has been doing “a very good job of attempting to train and improve the way that police behave”.
“But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t still a long way to go and we should neglect that,” he said.
Miller, who has been severely criticised for reinstating in 2010 two cops who were in 2009 convicted of crimes after almost beating to death a 15-year-old boy one year earlier, recently fired two cops for stealing parts from a vehicle parked at police headquarters.
Miller, who in January said he is strictly against police brutality, that month fired a cop who drove without license and insurance a vehicle that struck and killed a lad who was riding his bicycle on Boxing Day.