By Latrishka Thomas
Two law enforcement experts have wholeheartedly agreed that the officers involved in the matter that led to Delano ‘Vampire Killer’ Forbes’ ‘escape’ from police custody need to be investigated.
Last week, the alleged serial killer was found not guilty of escaping lawful custody after a few weeks on trial.
The Magistrate held that the evidence given caused her to conclude that he could not have “jump[ed] 30 feet off a cliff with foot cuffs on and not sustain serious injuries.”
On Friday, Commissioner of Police Atlee Rodney, when asked whether the officers would be brought under further scrutiny said:” I think that it is premature to determine; obviously a decision was made by the Magistrate, and I haven’t had an opportunity to see that decision as yet. I think probably looking at the decision and then having discussions with the investigators and the prosecutors, probably then we can consider that.”
But Former Assistant Commissioner of Police Nuffield Burnett said that without a doubt the matter needs to be investigated.
“This is a separate issue where the whole situation is now putting the police in a different light…no I did not escape, you let me go,” he said iterating that the seriousness of the matter warrants and immediate investigation.
He referred to it as “hybrid form of embarrassment.”
Brenton Smith, the former president of the Caribbean Federation of Police Welfare Associations, and present station sergeant in St Vincent and the Grenadines concurred saying, “Of course, there should be an investigation as to what could have caused that, because what you don’t want is a repeat of incidents of this nature where officers believe it went down that way in a particular case, and I can do it and get away with it as well.”
He emphasised the importance of holding the officers accountable for their actions and making the public aware of the outcome to restore public faith in the police.
The experts however stated that the investigation needs to be executed by an independent body.
Burnett renewed the call for such a body to be formed.
“What I have advocated in times past, and I’m still suggesting up to now, is that there be an independent body; call it what you may, between the police and public whose responsibility is to ensure that matters are dealt with by the police in an efficient manner, and are filtered back to that body, so that [independent reports can be made to the public] especially on matters that are pertinent for public consumption,” he stated.
The former Assistant Commissioner further said that that body should act as a “buffer between the police and the public “so that transparency and accountability are always present.”
Smith shared similar sentiments as he rebuked the tendency for police for cover-up matters.
He said that although oversight bodies exist, one “with teeth” does not.
“There are oversight bodies within the police force that will assist in this matter. However, you can have an oversight body for oversight sake. They must have teeth. They must be able to act independently, and I think that that is one of the problems we have in the region where oversight bodies are aligned to some political party or someone high up within the police force,” he stated.
“We have so any commissions in this country and they are all without teeth, they just have gums,” Burnett then chimed in.
A few months ago, in June, Minister of Public safety Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin said that an independent police complaints board was being mulled.