Editorial: Uh uh . . .

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Those were the words on everyone’s lips when word came that three prisoners had escaped the custody of the Royal Antigua and Barbuda Police Force. This was especially disheartening, coming a few hours after the capture of Calvin “Burga” James who’d managed to elude the police for over three months. Seems just when we say “Peace and safety, then comes sudden destruction,” so to speak.

And let us not forget that another robbery suspect, Anthony “Thug Life” Govia, is still on the lam. In fact yesterday the authorities renewed a call to the public for any information leading to the arrest of this presumed-to-be-dangerous suspect.

Not surprisingly, and coming on the heels of the police force initially failing to be fully forthcoming as to the details surrounding the capture of Calvin “Burga” James, we are being told – a week after the fact – that the aforementioned three suspects escaped from a detention cell at the St. John’s Police Station. We certainly trust that this failure to communicate is a police strategy designed to lull the escapees into a false sense of security, or some other such tactic.

Barring that, it begs the questions: Why is our police force not forthcoming with information? And how does this strengthen the public/law enforcement partnership in the effort to fight crime and keep our communities safe? Does this subterfuge and secrecy inspire confidence in the police? We sure hope that the authorities can provide some answers to these pertinent questions.

You see, our concern about the dissemination, or lack thereof, of information from the police stems in no small degree from the escape of the so-called Vampire Killer, Delano Forbes, and the murky circumstances and conflicting stories surrounding his escape from custody. At the time of his escape Forbes was on a dubious mission to assist investigators with the gathering of evidence. Sadly, while on the loose, Forbes – already accused of the murder of Lisue Williams. Shawn Henry and Wilfred ‘Bongo’ Williams – killed again.

This time it was Morrison “Chung” Thomas of All Saints. Again we say “Uh uh” because it is not lost on us that the escape of these three men, who were being held and investigated for a series of break-ins and larceny, can result in more serious crimes (heaven forbid) while they are on the run. After all, we know the old adage “Desperate men do desperate things!” Coincidentally, this most recent prison bust-out occurred almost a year to the day that Delano Forbes slipped investigators in Swetes.

Not that we are suggesting a connection, except that there seems to be some astonishing lapses when it comes to dealing with extremely dangerous suspects. Look, the three escapees, Ryan Cadette, Hilroy Henry and Dion Luke, were being held on a series of break-in cases; extremely serious crimes in the context of the violation of the personal spaces and private properties of the good citizens of our fair state.

We all know that, in order to avoid being identified by a witness (homeowner, neighbor or passer-by), those who break and enter often resort to extreme measures. We submit that these innocent-until proven-guilty suspects should have been under greater supervision, and we certainly pray that they will not commit any more crimes while on the lam. Our law enforcement men and women have been doing a terrific job, for the most part, notwithstanding the less-than-optimum physical circumstances under which they work.

The latest escapees forced out burglar bars and pried open a window; and last year a suspect jumped over a wall while being questioned. Good grief! It’s that easy! So we are calling on the authorities to immediately look to upgrading the detention facilities at the St. John’s Police Station. These “dolly-house” escapes are manifestly not good enough!

We also call on the police brass to refresh the rank-and-file on the policies and procedures that are in place for handling suspects. And, of course, we are calling for a little more forthrightness and transparency when providing information to the public on police operations – particularly if, in so doing, no investigation or police action will be compromised. We certainly do not want to be caught in a situation where we are saying “uh, uh” . . . too late.

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