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Just plain poor

Published: 
Monday, March 2, 2015

I knew when I wrote my column last week about the police service and serious crime statistics, that someone was bound to react to my story with an unimaginably horrific story of her or his own, and I was right. My story that questioned Carnival statistics for violent crimes during Carnival—or any day of the year for that matter—happened to be based on a stabbing incident involving my son in Carnival 2013 that the police never reported and never counted as a statistic—not to mention investigate in any serious way. 

I could write a book on all the incidents in my life in Trinidad where police did not respond to calls for help including robberies outside of my gate, in my driveway or in my house.

 In that same Carnival 2013, my daughter had to beg and finally threaten to report the badge number of a police woman who refused to take a report about someone who came to my work place to threaten me. My daughter reported this incident because I was not at work when the person came so he delivered the message to my daughter for me. The police woman on duty in Four Roads refused to take my daughter’s report. She refused to give her badge number when my daughter asked for it.

Just after that Carnival, the Belmont police refused to take a report from me when I reported an incident of four police officers in uniforms who came to my house to harass me. They said they were sent from the Belmont police station. The Belmont police said in the rudest, most unprofessional manner possible that they didn’t send anyone, and they refused to take my report until I threatened to report them for their rude, unprofessional behaviour that led me to ask, “Don’t you care that police officers are claiming that they had been officially sent from this police station and you know nothing about it?”   

They wrote my “report” on a piece of paper—not in their book. Of course this lackadaisical, unprofessional attitude of the police makes me question police statistics for crime. I know how much you have to plead, beg and finally threaten police to take a report. How can police produce statistics when they don’t take reports? I have a whole string of examples, but I’ll stop with these so you can read someone else’s horrifically unbelievable story.

After my column last week I received an e-mail from a reader who said she wholeheartedly agreed with the column I had written. She said I could pass her e-mail on to you. This is what she wrote about an incident she experienced:  
“I was with a Canadian friend and we were about to start cooking dinner.

Three men came up the back steps with masks and cutlasses and began to swipe their cutlasses. I was behind my friend. I turned, ran back to the balcony (three storeys up) and jumped below, landing on steps. I broke my ankles and heels and got up to run on those broken feet.  

“The bandit chased me all the way and met me up in the road where I collapsed. He raised his cutlass to start to chop me with it. I remember begging for my life, but in the nick of time, my friend came down the back steps and at the right time managed to shove the creature with the cutlass off. My friend sustained a few chops but kept dodging the cutlasses. In all of this, not a word was said, they were so high on drugs. They finally ran off.

“We never heard a word from the police either (after it was reported) and the police never interviewed me. The end of the story is that I spent six months in a wheel chair, three months on crutches and three more on a stick. I had several surgeries to put steel into my feet. I remember this as if it were yesterday. “So I totally agree with you Debbie, and I imagine there are many, many more people who have suffered similar fates.”

I certainly suspect the same. Once again, it has to be said: the police can come up with any kind of statistics they want if officers don’t show up to investigate crimes or don’t even take reports. I have one word to describe police efforts, police attitude, police investigations, police reporting, police communication and police service: poor.

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