Though crime has continued and will always happen, the police have been swift in their actions to find and arrest the alleged perpetrators including those related to serious offenses, such as murder. The recent speedy arrest of the manager of the Rawlins Plantation Hotel, for the murder of one of his employees, is one such example.
However, there are still problems within the force. One of the areas where much help is still needed and where officers are continuing to show a deficiency is in their relations with the public. In fact, at best, most officers are simply horrible in this department.
They tend to treat victims of crimes like they are the criminals and not the party that has been done wrong.
One such instance occurred recently when a resident of Dieppe Bay, St. Kitts, went seeking the assistance of the police because his vehicle had been stolen. This is a case that not only exposes just how terrible the police are, at times, when relating to the public, but it also demonstrates exactly why members of the public sometimes refuse to even bother to report criminal acts to which they have fallen victim.
On Tuesday 13th December, 2011, at about 4:55pm, Dieppe resident, Halva Lucky Henry, parked his gold 1993 Nissan Sentra, PA 2555, at a location in Bird Rock, as he prepared to take his vehicle to the mechanic the next day.
The following day, Wednesday, 14th December, Lucky returned for his vehicle about 12:00 Noon, but it could not be found anywhere. The car had simply gone missing…just vanished. He immediately travelled to the Traffic Department to lodge a stolen or missing car report. He also informed his insurance of the latest developments.
The Traffic Police told him that they would alert their patrol teams to be on the lookout. However, Lucky realized that the day passed and no one had the courtesy to get back to him, at any time. The days went by and almost two weeks after and by chance, he met the senior officer in the Traffic Department downtown and asked if there was any word, but Lucky was told no.
Feeling somewhat disappointed and discouraged by the inaction of the police the victim decided to mount his own search for his vehicle. This continued for days. At first he was unsuccessful but his perseverance paid off on Friday 30th December, at around 1:45pm, some sixteen 16 days after the car was reported stolen. He eventually found the vehicle in a cane field in Canada Estate, close to Elco Limited, just off the island’s main road. It was an area that he had previously searched, but this time he was more thorough and it paid off. The thieves had dragged it into the bushes, partially hiding it with branches they cut from nearby trees. The only problem, the car by then was stripped to pieces and only the bare frame remained. All wheels had been taken off; the engine taken out and stripped; trunk removed; all electrical and interior, including steering wheel, were missing.
Lucky then reported his find to the Criminal Investigation Department, (CID) about 3:00pm. Upon arrival, he asked to speak to the senior person in charge of CID; he was told that a female corporal was in charge but he further requested an audience with someone more senior.
What followed next is nothing but amazing. The victim was told that the Department is closed and he should come back on Wednesday, 4th January, 2012, (which would have been almost a week after).
After protesting this obvious insensitive reaction from the officers on duty one police officer eventually told the victim, “Sir, get out of here!” At least he was polite, he said “sir”.
In protest, the victim reminded the police officer that, “I came to make a report and that is what you are going to tell me?” However the male officer only repeated, “Get out or else I would arrest you!”
According to Lucky, another officer got up from his seat and told him that if he did not leave the department he would certainly arrest him. To avoid further difficulties, Lucky then left the CID office and went downstairs, where he ran into Stafford Liburd, the Deputy Commissioner of Police. Lucky put his case to him and Liburd took him back upstairs to the CID, where he was asked for his personal information, (something they had not even bothered to do on the first account), and the female corporal asked the victim for his name address, date of birth and other personal information.
Eventually Lucky left the office with a male officer and the female corporal, who called for a driver, but she was told no vehicle was available. They proceeded to the Guard Room. However the officer who Lucky said had earlier threatened him with arrest requested and got transport from the Guard Room.
Another delay occurred, however as Henry tried to explain to the male officer where the vehicle had been found, but the officer indicated that he was not familiar with Canada Estate, and may have difficulty finding the vehicle. Lucky therefore suggested that he would accompany them.
But instead of being thankful, the officer retorted, “You are wasting my time, I have more important things to do”. In response Lucky told him, “If that is the case, my business is not important. I will go to the traffic Department to seek help.” Then the officer said, “We don’t have anyone from the crime lab to take fingerprints or anything.” But just then another officer entered with a shirt marked “Crime Lab”, said Lucky.
It was agreed that they would travel to the scene but Lucky asked, “What are we going to do now, (when we get there)?” The police said they were only “going to see and tomorrow we would return to take finger prints.” Lucky told them, “If this is the case let us wait until tomorrow and we go together…” However they agreed to travel immediately but in separate vehicles. After arriving before the police and waiting for some time, Lucky returned to the station but the officers were nowhere to be found and did not travel to the site as promised. Somewhat frustrated, Lucky went to the Traffic Department, left a written note for the Inspector in charge. The inspector returned the call at around 9:00pm and Lucky was told to return the following morning at 10:30am, which he did, but was then told, that the matter was now a felony and out of the domain of the Traffic Department and he should go back to the CID. This was now Old Year’s Day, Saturday, 31st December, 2011, 17 days after the car was stolen.
This time, when Lucky arrived at CID he met another female corporal. They spoke and she asked him, “What happened yesterday? He related what transpired but the corporal said she was given a different story by the officers in question, but she provided no details.
She then arranged to get two officers to go to the scene with Lucky. They arrived about midday and were shown the car or rather its remains. They did their investigations. They took fingerprints. Lucky was able to retrieve a bag with some paper documents which had been thrown in a tree.
The Police asked if the car was licensed and insured, they were told yes. Then they instructed Lucky to go back to Traffic to get a report to take to the insurance.
Lucky says that was the last contact he had with the police and he has not even had a phone call from them since.
He told MiyVue.com, “I am only sorry for people who are less fortunate than me, because very little help comes from the police.”
He said he would not feel as bad as he did, if the police had even attempted a search for the vehicle. “If they had gone a done a search, even if they did not find it, I would have felt so much better that they are in fact concerned about my property.”
This case is so similar to the experiences of so many citizens, who have said that they are never contacted by the police with updates on their cases. They say the police could at time seem not to care about them, as victims, and even when an attempt is made for further information, they are left to feel like they are a bother to the officers. Others have said that given the rude and disrespectful manner in which they are spoken to by the police, they leave the station feeling like they are the ones who have just committed a crime, rather than being the victims.
This is a problem that CG Walwyn needs to fix with urgency because all his best efforts can go to naught if his lower ranked officers do not learn how to relate to the community that they are paid to serve and have taken an oath to protect.