EDITORIAL: Four months for a report?

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The news that multi-murder-accused, Delano Forbes, was charged with a fourth murder that was apparently committed during his time on the run from authorities has shone the spotlight on the circumstances surrounding his escape, again.  At the centre of the storm is Minister of Public Safety, Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin.  He had described the police’s management of Forbes on the day of his escape as “a gross neglect of duty,” and had promised the public that he would publish the report regarding the investigation as soon as it was in his hands.  
Most recently, the minister, who is also the Attorney General, has come under fire from the opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) for not being transparent in this matter.  Its spokesman on Legal Affairs and National Security, Leon Chaku Symister, has said that the minister and the police have “forgotten about the people” and accused them of “a pattern of not informing the public” about major law enforcement or security blunders and failing to be transparent.  Symister’s and the UPP’s stance is “We were promised a report” and the minister should produce the report immediately. After all, the Delano Forbes debacle is a matter of grave concern to the citizenry! A matter of life and death! Literally!
In response however, the silky, smooth-talking Benjamin has said that he is still awaiting a police report on how now four-time-accused murderer escaped police custody almost four months ago.  He said, “I made a promise to the general public that they would have gotten a complete report on how the prisoner escaped, and when that investigation has been completed, I still intend to keep that promise.” That is very interesting because Benjamin also said that based on the recommendations made, all officers involved were charged with disciplinary offences within the police force itself. What kind of justice is that?  A full investigation, and a report has not been produced, but the officers involved were charged?  Were they also disciplined?  Based on what?
In mid-February, while appearing on OBSERVER Radio’s Big Issues, the then Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), now Acting Commissioner of Police, Atlee Rodney, said that a report on the matter had been presented to the Attorney General. We later learned from Benjamin that it was “not” a full report. So, what report was that?  Why wasn’t that report made public?  Was it incomplete, and if so, in what way? Is Minister Benjamin waiting for a particular type of report that may not be coming?  Are the police investigators working on the report that Minister Benjamin desires, or do they consider the report already delivered?  Can everyone please check the hymn sheet that they are singing from so that we ensure that we are all on the same page?  So many questions!
Mystery still surrounds the circumstances of Delano Forbes’ escape on February 12 and his recapture a month later in a pump house at Follies.
What we have been told so far is that Forbes, with shackles connected at his ankles, jumped off a “cliff” and was able to outrun the entire security detail in dense underbrush and vanish.  Some people have categorised the tales of his escape as being “Houdini-like.” Others have described them as being far-fetched!
The unfortunate thing is that that is all we know. Nothing else. Almost four months later, according to the Minister, the report is still not complete, or at the very least, not delivered to his office.  He is pointing the blame squarely at the police force for the delay in presenting the report and details about alleged disciplinary action taken against the five officers involved.
Right now, the police do not have the luxury of excessive goodwill and good relations with the people, and in this case, where a life was, allegedly, lost because of what appears to be a certain level of laxity and incompetence, the best and only course of action is to come clean and be transparent about the matter. If the police have completed the investigation and delivered the report, let the public know that the ball is in Minister Benjamin’s court. If they have not completed the investigation or delivered the report after almost four months, then they need to tell the public why.  Silence is not a luxury that they can afford.  
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