Did Cops Help Post Grotesque Anse Chas­tanet Pic­tures?

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

Toni Ni­cholas

Hot on the heels of the DPP’s stern warn­ing to the media come fresh con­cerns about the pro­fes­sion­al­ism of “sec­tions” of the lo­cal press. This time around the big ques­tion cen­ters on whether “ques­tion­able” be­hav­ior on the part of re­porters is aided and abet­ted by mem­bers of the Royal Saint Lu­cia Po­lice Force.

Only last month a state­ment from the DPP’s of­fice ap­pealed to “the media fra­ter­nity . . . to ex­er­cise cau­tion in in­ter­view­ing and dis­play­ing the im­ages of po­ten­tial wit­nesses who may be at the scenes of crime and/ or in­volved in on­go­ing po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions.”

Ad­di­tion­ally: “It is con­tempt of court un­der sec­tion 380 (1) (g) to pub­lish any mat­ter in­tended to or likely to prej­u­dice the fair trial or con­duct of crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings and to pub­lish any mat­ter which pre­judges is­sues to be tried or are be­ing tried by the court. The co­op­er­a­tion of the media fra­ter­nity will be greatly ap­pre­ci­ated.”

For some time now there have been of­fi­cial com­plaints about the way the lo­cal media re­port cer­tain in­ci­dents, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to the film­ing and pho­tograph­ing of crime scenes and the pub­li­ca­tion of re­lated pho­to­graphs. Par­tic­u­larly dis­turb­ing to many is that photos taken of ac­ci­dent ca­su­al­ties of­ten end up in the hands of media per­son­nel even be­fore fam­ily mem­bers have been con­tacted by the po­lice or by friends. And while in some in­stances these photos were ob­vi­ously taken by pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als at the scene of an ac­ci­dent, there is also the strong sus­pi­cion mem­bers of the RSLPF may be sup­ply­ing par­tic­u­lar media out­lets with grue­some pic­tures from crime scenes and ac­ci­dents for pay.

The STAR put the ques­tion to act­ing po­lice chief Er­rol Alexan­der this week. “It is some­thing that we are cur­rently look­ing into from our end,” Alexan­der said ac­knowl­edg­ing that the pos­si­bil­ity did ex­ist. How­ever, he stressed that at the other end the media also has the re­spon­si­bil­ity to act in an eth­i­cal man­ner and re­spect per­sons’ rights to pri­vacy, “And to go about their du­ties with­out in­fring­ing on the rights of oth­ers or break­ing the law.”

This week the Min­is­ter of Health Alv­ina Reynolds took is­sue with those who had placed on the in­ter­net pic­tures of a half-naked young woman whose body was dis­cov­ered on the rocks at Anse Chas­tanet, near her wrecked ve­hi­cle.

It would ap­pear that get­ting it right no longer mat­ters, that only get­ting it first does. Hope­fully we will not soon see life im­i­tat­ing art, with overzeal­ous pho­tog­ra­phers re­ar­rang­ing crime scenes in the fash­ion of the 2014 movie Nightcrawler, to cre­ate more ex­cit­ing, not to say more com­mer­cial footage, aided and abet­ted by some who swore to pro­tect and serve.

Are lo­cal cops as­sist­ing in the dis­sem­i­na­tion of the bad choice of photos ap­pear­ing in the lo­cal media?

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