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Community policing needs to be strengthened says activists

By Makeida Antonio

A string of serious crimes across Antigua and Barbuda has residents and activists alike asking what can be done to increase security in communities around the country.

On October 4th, Jane Finch was found dead in her Piccadilly home. Twenty-one-year-old Brittany Jno-Baptiste, the young woman suspected of Finch’s murder, was charged for burglarising the home of the 66-year-old woman with the intent to commit a felony. Acting Superintendent Frankie Thomas told Observer this homicide is still under investigation.

Meanwhile, the court ordered a psychiatric evaluation of Jno-Baptiste after her first appearance before a magistrate.

Dr Oswald Thomas said on Observer’s Big Issues Programme yesterday that the circumstances surrounding Finch’s death are quite disturbing.

“It was shocking. The question of whether or not there was assistance that could have been  rendered in a more timely manner; and from the beginning I thought for some reason that the young lady in question had some disturbance, and it was not sitting well. You have the person in the comfort of their home, and you have that type of invasion, it must have been a frightening situation,” Dr Thomas said.

Additionally, he said he was unsure as to the level of priority that the police gave the situation as Jane sent out a plea on social media during Jno-Baptiste being outside her home before entering.

“I’m not sure whether or not the police gave it the seriousness in moving quickly as they should. I believe that is my most puzzling thought, whether or not she could have received timely assistance and it was not given. I wonder what is the strategy of the police in terms of doing the night patrol,” Dr. Thomas pondered.

A call was made for the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda to re-examine its strategy on patrolling communities and providing rapid responses.

“In most developed countries, once you call the police station and make a 911 call, there are normally units patrolling and so somebody within five minutes could respond, so I think we have to change the way we do our community policing,” Dr Thomas stated.

Co-host of Movement Radio on Observer and community activist David Spencer, highlighted the need for consistency from institutions such as community watches so that vulnerable members of the society are able to be protected from threats in their environment.

“I agree totally, and Dr Oswald Thomas has pointed to a phenomenon that has been developing in Antigua over time, and he asked that question as to whether those close-knit communities no longer exist and I would say outside of the core of the old village, those communities have changed.”

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