Friday 5 June, 2020

St Mary cops finding it hard to make arrests for domestic violence

The St Mary police chief, Superintendent Bobette Morgan-Simpson has revealed that cops are having challenges making arrests in some domestic abuse cases.

She made the admission while citing concern about the number of domestic violence reports in St Mary, some of which have resulted in murders over the years.

Among the challenges being faced by police there are the reported unwillingness of some victims to turn over medical reports to investigators, and in other instances, the victims sometimes develop a change of heart towards their alleged aggressors.

Morgan-Simpson, who was addressing the St Mary Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention Workshop at Couples San Souci Resort on Thursday, disclosed that 48 cases of domestic violence have been reported in the parish since January 2019.

She told the audience comprising of representatives of several stakeholder groups, including schools, churches, neighbourhood watch groups and police youth club leaders, that of the 48 cases recorded, 28 involved domestic disputes between boyfriends and girlfriends.

"We have had a total of 48 (domestic violence) cases reported since 2019: Boyfriend (and) girlfriend - 28; and of the 28, five of the aggressors were women," Superintendent Morgan-Simpson said.

She revealed, too, that three cases involving husband and wife situations have been reported so far this year. Two of the wives were the reported aggressors, according to the police commander.

"... And St Mary has unfortunately been known to have murders being committed as a result of domestic violence. We have a history (in that regard)," she said.

One of the cases of domestic violence this year which involved a husband and wife scenario turned deadly. In that case, Detective Corporal Kirk Lawrence of the Trelawny Police Division reportedly shot his wife, Janet Hardie-Lawrence several times, including six times to the head, during a dispute at their home at Jamaica Beach in Tower Isle, St Mary on May 28. He has so far been denied bail in court, and is to return on July 11 when the case is again to be mentioned.

Detective Corporal Kirk Lawrence

Janet Hardie-Lawrence

Lawrence had reportedly sent out a voice note on social media in which he detailed the issues he claimed to have been facing with his wife, who he said was "tormenting" him. However, family members of the deceased woman have since rejected the claims.

Meanwhile, Morgan-Simpson gave other figures highlighting the number of domestic disputes involving family members in St Mary since the start of the year.

In regards to domestic violence between brothers, seven such cases were reported, while three cases involved uncles and nephews.

Four cases involving domestic violence between mothers and their sons were reported since January.

There was one reported case each for domestic violence between an uncle and a niece, and an aunt and a niece, and also an aunt and a nephew.

Morgan-Simpson shared that the mood of some of the victims of domestic violence often changes, resulting in arrests not being made.

"A lot of times we have persons making the reports. They will also make a statement, but as soon as they are told that, ‘listen, this is the procedure: you make a report’ - and they will come battered and bruised and bloody and swollen - and you send them to the doctor and to the hospital... ‘go get the medical certificate, come back’, and if they do come back, by time they are to give the statements (in writing), their mood change," said the senior police officer.

Morgan-Simpson added: "They (the victims) might encounter the men and they might decide, 'Yuh know, mi can't lock him up because is mi husband or is mi boyfriend’."

However, the police commander said once the complainant has given a written statement to an investigator, the case will go before the courts.

The St Mary Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention Workshop was held in partnership with retired Deputy Commissioner of Police, Novelette Grant, who pioneered the initiative during her time in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

The workshop was geared at providing knowledge and understanding of dealing with domestic violence, and preventative measures that can be taken in such situations.

The event was sponsored by the United States Embassy in Jamaica.

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