Sunday 22 September, 2019

Cops respond to critics over handling of Central Village death threats

Fabian and Nicolette Hardy

Fabian and Nicolette Hardy

The police have responded to criticisms that have been levelled at members of its ranks following the recent incident in Central Village, St Catherine in which a security guard and his wife were gunned down - both fatally - by hoodlums in the community just days after the couple made a report to the authorities that they were living in fear of their lives.

The killings have triggered angry reactions from members of the community and social media users alike, who have argued that the police fell down in their duties to provide security for law-abiding citizens who were being threatened by criminals.

“We believe the police blundered,” said a social media user.

“It cannot be that citizens of this country are left at the mercy of criminals in this manner. Imagine the man and his wife made a report to the point where they had to be escorted from the community in Central Village, and instead of putting in place systems to ensure that those citizens are kept safe, we are now hearing they were killed just days after they told the police that they were being threatened,” another social media user said.

The latter user said the incident has sent a bad signal to citizens who may want to help the police in the fight against crime.

“This development shows (that) the police do not have the resources to protect citizens if they decide to speak out against criminals,” the social media user argued.

The latter statement was seemingly in reference to reports that the now deceased couple had been accused of having provided information to the police that resulted in the seizure of an illegal gun in the community.

But police from the area have since come out to address the public concerns that have been raised.

“The matter in Central Village was one where the couple was escorted from the area because they were in fear, but they decided to return without properly informing the police. This placed the law enforcers at a disadvantage,” said a senior officer from the St Catherine South Police Division.

“In a case such as this one, we want to encourage citizens to work closer with the police. In the incident in Central Village, if the authorities were informed of the decision of the (eventual) victims to return to the area, a proper risk assessment would have been done to inform them against such a decision,” said the senior officer.

The lawman used the opportunity to call on members of the public to work closer with the police in situations such as the one mentioned above, so that local authorities can better advise citizens, and also put in place measures to ensure their safety.

But the explanation of the police seems unlikely to quell the anger of some members of the public who took to social media to voice their concerns.

“It should not be a case where law-abiding citizens have to run and hide because of criminals. When the police became aware of this case, more measures should have been put in place to ensure that it was the criminals who were left cowering in fear,’ declared another social media user.

“A stronger police presence should have been put in place to make criminals think twice about their actions. We believe the police blundered,” added the concerned citizen.

In reference to the perceived motive behind the attack on the couple, the police were again not exactly convincing in their response. They said they too have received the reports of what is believed to have motivated the attack, and are now investigating that assertion.

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