How com­fort­ing are the lat­est crime fig­ures?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By

Rick Wayne

to imag­ine the univer­sal re­ac­tion if dur­ing his most re­cent State of the Union ad­dress Pres­i­dent Obama had said: “Ev­ery night be­fore we go to bed Michelle and I pray for divine in­ter­ven­tion in the Mid­dle East and for the good Lord to pro­tect our beloved Amer­ica from the reaches of ISIS.”

Try to con­ceive of Manuel Valls, in the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of the ter­ror­ist at­tack on the of­fices of Charlie Hebdo, telling the con­gre­gated plac­ard­bear­ing dev­as­tated mil­lions at the Place de la Republique, as well as count­less other pro­test­ers world-wide, that they should join the French gov­ern­ment in pray­ing for an at­ti­tu­di­nal change on the part of Al Qaeda to­ward the United States.

Unimag­in­able, you say? So how does the prime min­is­ter of Saint Lu­cia—with its 500 and climb­ing un­re­solved homi­cides, count­less re­ported and un­re­ported rapes, es­ca­lat­ing bur­glar­ies and a po­lice force that is it­self widely sus­pected of hav­ing com­mit­ted sev­eral mur­ders—get away with sug­gest­ing we should leave it to God to solve our crime prob­lems?

This is how the prime min­is­ter put it this week, ev­i­dently hav­ing for­got­ten that God helps only those who help them­selves: “As a na­tion we must pray for a more har­mo­nious, tran­quil and peace­ful 2015.”

In the mean­time, said the prime min­is­ter, the po­lice that he had him­self la­beled cor­rupt here and else­where, “must be com­mended for its work in 2014, es­pe­cially as re­gards so­cial out­reach.”

Ad­di­tion­ally: “There have been spe­cific in­ter­ven­tions in some of our more trou­bled ar­eas to min­i­mize the in­ci­dence of gang-re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties.”

Iron­i­cally, the same “spe­cific in­ter­ven­tions” were at the heart of the re­cently con­cluded IMPACS in­ves­ti­ga­tion of ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings al­legedly com­mit­ted by some mem­bers of the force on the or­ders of cer­tain politi­cians.

In his New Year ad­dress on Sun­day, the cam­paign­ing prime min­is­ter sought to make hay of what he de­scribed as “a re­duc­tion in the vol­ume of ma­jor crime, in­clud­ing mo­tor ve­hi­cle theft, bur­glary and sex­ual of­fences.”

He noted that the num­ber of homi­cides had also re­duced in 2014.

On Tues­day, the po­lice mounted their own pedestal to re­peat what for them was good news. How­ever, it is doubt­ful that what they said—in­clud­ing that there were only 34 homi­cides in 2014—brought com­fort to the rel­a­tives of the 500 vic­tims of homi­cides still un­re­solved. Or to sus­pects lan­guish­ing for years be­hind bars with­out a trial date. Or to the woman re­cently raped at gun­point by two masked in­di­vid­u­als, in the pres­ence of her boyfriend.

In any event, the crime fig­ures cited by the prime min­is­ter in his own po­lit­i­cal in­ter­est and by the po­lice press of­fi­cer with the badly tar­nished im­age of the force in mind are less than re­li­able.

It is no se­cret that most rapes go un­re­ported. Ditto bur­glar­ies and so-called sex of­fences, for sev­eral rea­sons, not least of them egre­gious po­lice in­com­pe­tence and the es­ca­lat­ing ef­fete­ness of the whole jus­tice sys­tem.

On av­er­age it takes five years to get re­ported mat­ters be­fore the court. The po­lice force, thanks to its prob­lems with the Leahy ar­range­ments, is un­der­funded, de­mor­al­ized, ill-equipped and un­der­manned.

The par­tic­u­larly bad pub­lic­ity the force has re­ceived in relation to the un­re­solved mur­ders of non-na­tion­als, the lat­est be­ing Ol­lie Go­bat, has not helped.

Of course, the prime min­is­ter chose to avoid dis­cus­sion of such life and death mat­ters this week, as did the po­lice at their own press con­fer­ence.

In­stead, In­spec­tor Ed­die Mon­louis pat­ted his col­leagues on the back, say­ing that what they had achieved this year, de­spite all they’ve faced, was both “ad­mirable and com­mend- able.”

In­spec­tor Mon­louis may have a point!

ACP Alexan­der, Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Ver­non Fran­cois, act­ing Deputy Com­mis­sioner Frances Henry at Press Con­fer­ence on Crime Stats Wed­nes­day.

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