Report of the Duffus Commission of Inquiry into the Breakdown of Law & Order, and Police Brutality in Grenada

Part III

The Royal Grenada Police Force and the Recruitment and Function of Police Aides

Paragraphs 53 thru 54. - The Setting-up of the Police Aides - Their Recruitment, Qualifications etc. - Evidence of Leslie Michael Seon

53. We turn first to the evidence of Leslie Michael Seon. Mr. Seon is a broadcaster/journalist who had been a member of the Senate from March - November, 1972 under the sponsorship of the Grenada National Party [GNP] and who, at the time Mr. Gairy spoke in 1970, was manager of Radio Grenada and the Director of Government Information of the Windward Islands Broadcasting Service [WIBS] which is now defunct. He was also Director of Government Information in Grenada.

He said that he knew that men had been recruited at the residence of the Prime Minister at Mount Royal during the period May 1970 to the latter part of 1973 when there were then about 800 men serving as police aides; he added, however, that in the course of their recruitment in separate groups they had been known during the intervening years by different names, e.g. the first group was called the Voluntary Intelligence Unit for Protection of Property; bearing the acronym of VIUPP; another group was known as Special Guards armed with defensive weapons also known as VSG's; yet another were known as Special Reserve Police or SRP's; another group was called the Night Ambush Squad or NAS.

Altogether the force which he estimated to number about 800 men was, in the end, known as the Secret Police or as police aides, by which appellation they will hereafter be described. According to Mr. Seon these names were given to the several groups by Mr. Gairy himself in the broadcasts which he delivered from time to time. His recollection of the circumstances existing at the time was -

At that time there were melancholy happenings in Trinidad and Tobago. I think it was called the Black Power Period, and there were a few young men, in Grenada, and young women, mainly students, who had accepted this - this pattern of what is called 'Black is beautiful,' and they trimmed their hair short, the girls did, and the boys grew their hair, and it was a sort of general sociological law of the period of change. It was not violent here, not that I can recall, but the general movement of 'Black is beautiful' was prevalent.

Mr. Gairy's radio broadcast of May 3, 1970, also gives some insight into his thinking at the time. He said:

"I cannot close my ears to the ugly incidents alleged to have taken place recently, and it may be timely here to mention a few - three youngsters, clad in black, entered the 'Red Crab Restaurant' and ordered drinks and food, ate, and then shouted 'Black Power,' and left without paying; another three demanded money and drinks from two foreigners at the Nutmeg Restaurant; others molested some other visitors by the 'Portofino' Restaurant and the 'China Town' Complex of Restaurants. 'A stitch in time saves nine' is indeed a wise maxim. My government will not sit by and allow individual or groups of individuals to agitate or incite, to promulgate or to promote any racial disharmony in the peaceful 'Isle of Spice' - the Caribbean Garden of Eden. Today Barbados is providing strong legislative powers with heavy penalties to curtail any such acts. I say, that those guilty of inciting racial disharmony, or guilty of molesting of any form should be told, 'Good Morning' by the Cat-O-Nine as they start their prison term, and 'How do you Do' by the same Cat-O-Nine as they and their prison term. Law and order will always reign supreme in this great little state of ours."

In another speech, delivered on 20 October 1972, Mr. Gairy said that a Night Ambush Squad was then in the course of being formed and would comprise young, agile, fast-running specifically trained police officers who will not be seen on the street nor in vehicles but would remain under cover properly armed and will carry walkie talkie equipment for instant communication. He said they would remain under cover in certain areas each night for the next five years. He added at the same time that:

"a large number of special Secret Police ranging from business men to the man in the street was also in formation (but) there will be no uniforms to betray the secrecy of these persons."

The method of recruitment of the police aides and their qualifications and equipment must therefore be examined in order to ascertain whether by their constitution and leadership it was likely that they could benevolently or usefully contribute to the maintenance of law and order in Grenada.

Mr. Seon said he based his estimate of a strength of 800 police aides on January 4, 1974, mainly on the numbers he saw answering a request from time to time to report to Mount Royal, the official residence of the Prime Minister of Grenada, the Hon. E.M. Gairy.

In answer to the question whether he remembered how the police aides were recruited, he said that on each occasion of the broadcast the Premier would ask men to come to Mount Royal on a certain date. He also based his estimate of numbers on an incident in November, 1973, when Mr. Gairy announced in a broadcast that the police aides were being disbanded and requested them to attend at Mount Royal. After the announcement Mr. Seon saw several lorry loads and landrovers with police aides moving in the direction of the city.

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