Saturday, February 17, 2018

Better investigations into police actions

I don't believe in the infrastructural destruction of your own living space to bring justice, but the residents of Mt D'or Road protested in a fashion that has become the status quo. Caught in the middle, commuters may not have appreciated what was going on, but I am sure some became sympathetic to the residents' anger.

Out of this situation, many norms in our society have been exposed. Those norms have been written about in online blogs and have been commented on in the media and on the "streets". What is interesting to observe is how these norms are viewed by different tiers of society and how in touch we are with our own society and its unwritten rules.

Very few citizens have faith in the Police Service. Sadly, those are one of the norms, and it speaks volumes to how crime is managed, with specific reference to conviction rates, as very few people want to come forward as witnesses. The apprehension to come forward as a witness comes from the "witness does get kill" proverb. So it says either the police are inept in protecting witnesses or are in "cahoots" with the criminal element.

In many communities, "rich" and "poor" alike, people smoke marijuana as if it were decriminalised. This norm cannot supersede what the law is. While that may be so, you hardly find "shindigs" in areas such as Goodwood Park being disrupted by the police because of marijuana smoke or the use of other illicit drugs. Let us not fool ourselves to believe the materially affluent in our society have more respect for the law, or for anybody else for that matter, than the less fortunate.

I read the comments of a few bloggers who praised the police for their actions, citing that since marijuana is illegal, they had a right to open fire on a reportedly unarmed individual. I found those comments to be unfortu-

nate as the use of seat belts while travel-

ling in vehicles also has legal aspects to it. If the philosophy in the argument used in this case is transposed to a case where a man attempts to flee the police because he is unable to pay the seat belt fine, then is it alright to open fire on that individual; does the punishment fit the crime, I ask?

The people of communities like Mt D'or Rd are considered by some to be "undesirables" in our nation's caste, that is well known. Therefore, most people who know of the reputation that has graduated to the area, and others like it, will tend to lean towards the report by the police on what occurred. Those with experience in how police handle themselves in any situation will be so inclined against the police. What is to be taken into account are the facts—which must be derived from an investigation —and questions must be asked, "Who is responsible for doing the groundwork in these investigations?"

We must have better systems in place to properly investigate situations such as these. There must be an effective way to deal with police officers' accountability as per their actions. My father was a police officer, and I know it is difficult to deal with, especially in these times. But we also must understand that these situations say more about how the police function than the criminal element.

Tracy Shields