The More Things Change . . . The Greater The Body Count!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

By El­iza Vic­tor

Are­cent news item on DBS ar­rested my at­ten­tion. It cen­tered on a gen­tle­man’s dif­fi­culty in ob­tain­ing a po­lice re­port of a theft at his home. He had been wait­ing three months, the gen­tle­man told a re­porter, to no avail. On every oc­ca­sion he had vis­ited a par­tic­u­lar po­lice sta­tion, he was ad­vised the of­fi­cer he sought was “not there.”

Al­most three years ago we had a break-in at our store. Over fifty tyres were stolen. The po­lice were called and a short time later they re­ceived in­for­ma­tion that led them to the perp. He still had sev­eral of the stolen tyres in his pos­ses­sion. He was charged and the tyres kept at the po­lice sta­tion. At the time I was over­seas. I was told the po­lice planned to pho­to­graph the re­cov­ered items then re­turn them to us. Three years later the ex­hibits were still at the Vieux Fort po­lice sta­tion. Upon in­ves­ti­ga­tion we were in­formed there had been a break-in at the sta­tion and some of the tyres in their cus­tody had gone miss­ing. The po­lice as­sured us they were look­ing into the mat­ter.

To date we have had not a word, not a word, not a word about the promised in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Mean­while, we learned from a well-placed source that the lat­est theft had been an in­side job. Around Jan/Feb of this year I made sev­eral at­tempts at get­ting some use­ful an­swers from the po­lice and to have re­leased to me what­ever tyres were still in their pos­ses­sion. I made an ap­point­ment with the head of the Vieux Fort sta­tion. I ar­rived at the ap­pointed time only to be told he was, yes, “not there.” When I com­plained about the demon­strated lack of re­spect by the pro­tec­tors of our lives and prop­erty—and re­fused to leave—I was di­rected to the sec­ond in com­mand.

He acted sur­prised that the mat­ter was still pend­ing and that the tyres were still at the po­lice sta­tion. The in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer was con­tacted. He claimed to be await­ing a hear­ing date. I was promised the tyres would be re­leased af­ter cer­tain pa­per work had been com­pleted “in a day or so.” One month went by and still the items had not been re­turned to us. My fur­ther ef­forts at con­tact­ing the in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer or his su­pe­ri­ors amounted to zero. They were ei­ther “not there” or at a train­ing ses­sion. (Ob­vi­ously not spon­sored by the U.S. State Depart­ment!)

A for­mer class­mate and cur­rent po­lice of­fi­cer whom I’d serendip­i­tously hooked up with af­ter my hun­dredth phone call to the Vieux Fort po­lice sta­tion of­fered hope. He would con­duct his own in­ves­ti­ga­tion on our be­half.

Sev­eral days later he in­formed me that not only had the case gone to court, the perp had also been or­dered to per­form 100 hours of com­mu­nity ser­vice. We had re­ceived no prior word of the case; it had been dealt with in our ab­sence. The ear­lier ref­er­enced in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer had ob­vi­ously ei­ther not been truth­ful or was as clue­less when he told his su­pe­rior he had been wait­ing for a hear­ing date.

The tyres were fi­nally re­turned to our shop. On re­ceipt of a re­lated po­lice re­port that we had to pay for, I pre­sented it to a lawyer in pur­suit of com­pen­sa­tion for the tyres that had dis­ap­peared while in po­lice cus­tody. Alas, it turned out the six months statute of lim­i­ta­tions had run out. Case closed at my ex­pense. I felt vic­tim­ized by not only bur­glars in and out of uni­form but also by the jus­tice sys­tem.

Is it any won­der our streets, schools and other in­sti­tu­tions are full of in­ex­pli­ca­bly an­gry peo­ple? Is it any sur­prise so many cit­i­zens ear­lier con­sid­ered right-think­ing abruptly go off the rails, too of­ten tak­ing the law in their own hands in the worst way? We’re at the point where every dis­gust­ing far-fetched story we hear about our po­lice is im­me­di­ately be­liev­able. As they say, change the name of the vic­tim and the story is ours: mu­tatis mu­tan­dis!

Such is my frus­tra­tion at this point that I’ve quit hop­ing for im­prove­ment, re­gard­less of the day’s gov­ern­ment. Too many have been al­lowed to pros­per by the short­com­ings in our jus­tice sys­tem. The pop­u­lar per­cep­tion is that many of our high­est of­fi­cials ben­e­fit from this sorry state of af­fairs—a per­cep­tion pro­moted even by name-call­ing politi­cians in par­lia­ment!

The own­ers of this busi­ness es­tab­lish­ment in Vieux Fort had a hard time de­cid­ing who their friends were: the thieves who broke in and made away with their prop­erty or the tax-funded al­leged pro­tec­tors

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