By Ronnie Daniel

Dear Commissioner,

Greetings and best wishes for a productive year ahead.

I was given very good advice many years ago by one of my mentors, who said that “one should not express himself/herself while angry, less s/he runs the danger of adding more injury to an already inflamed situation”.  But alas, I cannot contain myself and so I shall temporarily disregard that piece of sound advice and write you and the institution that you lead.

I am sure, given the present circumstance surrounding the calculated, untimely and savage death of Arianna Taylor-Israel, that you and my mentor will forgive me and understand the anguish trapped inside my bones.

The truth is, my heart is broken, and my spirit is disturbed and yours should be too, as the shooting death of Mrs. Taylor-Israel demonstrates a colossal failure on the part of our law enforcement agency that you have the privilege to lead. No amount of transfers, no amount of fancy-talk, no amount of suspensions can make up for this loss and the series of events leading up to it. For it is too glaring for what ought to have been a simple arrest based on clearly established procedures and protocols set out in our Criminal Procedure Code and the Domestic Violence Act of 2015.

My respect for you and the office of the Commissioner of Police is unquestioned but I consider this office to be one of the most critical offices in our land. Practically speaking, action or inaction by your office is a matter of life or death. In this instance, it proved to be a matter of death.

Mr. Commissioner, therefore, I ask you to provide genuine answers, not abstract explanations, to our citizens of the following questions I shall put to you:

  1. Is it not mandatory, as provided by law, that a police officer “respond[s] to every complaint or report alleging domestic violence whether or not the person making the complaint or report is the victim”? How then, action was not taken on this matter in “good time” to prevent what steered us right in the face?
  2. Is it not the prerogative of the Commissioner of Police, as provided by law, to have and maintain a domestic violence register? If so, why, as has been alleged, multiple reports had to be made when you, by law, ought to have known and consequently acted upon such matter? And as if the multiple reports were not enough, reports were made to the police the very week of this incident, according to media reports, yet swift action was still not taken?
  3. Given the protracted experience of abuse of Taylor-Israel, why was the alleged perpetrator not arrested under our Criminal Procedure Code, given that there was “reasonable cause to believe that a person was engaging in or attempting to engage in conduct which may amount to physical violence … that could result in serious physical injury or death”? The point is, a warrant was not needed for the police to act in the first instance.
  4. How is it possible for a person with [an alleged] history of violent behaviour and, more recently, a record of threats to kill, knowing that he possessed a firearm, continue to hold a licensed firearm? Why was it not revoked when there was cause to do so?

Your answers to these burning questions may provide temporary relief of my pain and hopefully, the palliative state of our nation would improve with time.  But ultimately, my wish is for you and the state institution that you lead to step up, and take our women, girls and the entire citizenry seriously when reports of intimate partner violence and threats to kill etc. are made. I believe we — the people — can build a society that is more compassionate; a society that is premised on the principles of respect for human rights, the sanctity of human life and freedom and equality for all. Let’s act now so we can realise the society we deserve.

ronniedee_99@yahoo.com

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to news.iwitness@gmail.com.

12 replies on “An open letter to the Commissioner of Police”

  1. Joshua Richardson says:

    Well spoken Sir. I too would ask an additional question. Is the Police Force a member of a BROTHERHOOD where the Brotherhood take care of their own? We need answers.

  2. Amos Greaves. says:

    Sir I for one have a vested interest in the commissioner’a response. These are provoking questions that the commission is bound to respond. The commissioner should voluntarily demit office for his collosal failure as a commissioner.

  3. Dear Mr. Daniel. My condolences to you. I had a similar situation in SVG last year when my father died. The Police fail to conduct an autopsy on my father to determine the cause of death. Further, the Bajan nurse in Mesopotamia walked passed my brother at his house, examined my father, walked out the house and did not even utter a word to my brother who was the care taker of my father. I once felt the same way you did. It is not a nice feeling.

    Mr.Daniel, I believe the current Commissioner of Police owes you an explanation but I also believe he is genuinely better than his last three (3) predecessors. Equally, there are many good descent, hard working police Officers too. The Commissioner has taken steps to transform the Force. However, he has a hard task because in some cases there are no processes or in others many of the processes are antiquated. Many of the issues that the public in SVG experience with the Police are as a result of four (4) reasons: Inadequate resources, lack of training, improper supervision, and neglect of duty by some officers.

    There is absolutely no reason for not having a twenty four hour proactive response in our respective communities. A modest investment in a few small police cars or bikes would help the Police Force realize this. A proactive response would greatly alleviate and mitigate threats of domestic violence and unfortunate fatal acts as you have so painfully experience. I am sure the Commissioner of Police has listen to your plea and would meet with you personally after reading this letter. It is the proper think to do, considering your pain and the circumstances surrounding the death of Mrs. Israel. I wish you well and hope we see a revision and improvement in the Police processes and response.

  4. This writer is so right with the carelessness of the police force to not act on the report of the dead mother and her complaints about the treats of her husband. I know that everyone is saddened for the criminal act that took place right infront of her son. Have mercy saint vincent on these women who are being abused and nothing is being done about it. You all have a very bad system of protectiing women and children there. Wake up people, god is going to hit saint vincent the beautiful isle of the Caribbean with a wrath that you all won’t get over. Bless you all.

  5. I echo your sentiments Mr. Daniel but don’t expect any answers- at least none that will bring you comfort or will be logical.

    Its the same COP who didnt know about the raid on the farmer’s field and many other instances of reactive action rather than proactive action.

    That entire organization needs more than a proverbial SHAKE UP!!!!

    I bet if it was a drug tip or something else more favorable to THEM, full on action would have occurred.

    Whatever faith I once had in the force continues to be diminished especially with this present TOP COP!

    QUE LASTIMA!

  6. Lets see how many of our devoted nationals will build on this foundation and press the authorities to act expeditiously on matters of violence and domestic abuse. We need to start with a national consultation on domestic and child abuse. Great things will be revealed if the consultation is properly executed.

  7. We must all remember the Chief is under the direct control of the Minister, Gonsalves is he. We must also be aware that there is a political side to this whole matter, and the personal side of a top politician, which soon than later will be exposed. I am sure many Vincentians also know what I know.

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