Deandrea Hamilton & Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, October 23, 2023 – Complaints fielded to media houses and posted on social media for years by residents regarding the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force have finally landed on the desk, all prim and proper, at the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) according to a report from The Guardian.
- limited forensic abilities,
- no management structures for serious incidents,
- and a bizarre insistence on recording crime data in a spreadsheet rather than a British government database shared with other police forces in the region.
While this may be news to the Foreign Office, the findings are long documented issues locally.
The shortcomings of the Police in areas like forensic capabilities came under international scrutiny with the case of American attorney, Marie Khunla, where the woman’s body was reportedly left in questionable condition before the arrival of a pathologist from overseas.
There are other incidents as well including the death of an Indian tourist in August 2021 where his body could not be released to family immediately because of the lack of a pathologist, the discovery of a local man, Ryan Musgrove’s headless body in Grace Bay in mid-2023, which remains an unclassified death, reportedly due to a lack of forensics.
And there are more.
As for the management structure for serious incidents, there have been numerous criticisms; a case in point, the murder of British Denise Buck in January 2022 where officers reportedly took much longer than required to cover a negligible distance after a 911 call reporting an ongoing break-in and that deadly attack. An internal investigation was promised but nearly two years on, there are no results of the probe.
The time Police officers took to respond to ‘shots fired’ calls and a crime scene of nearly an entire family slaughtered in a hail of bullets on October 31, 2022 remains unaddressed. The only surviving member of the cruel attack of the Ceasar family, was a seven year old girl sat injured and bloodied in the back seat of the family’s car; likely in shock and unable to move or cry out for help as her mother, brother, unborn sibling and step father lay dead in the car.
The scene was stumbled upon by residents, who filmed and photographed the shocking incident – the police were completely unaware and once they were, had made repeated mistakes regarding the release of information in the matter.
A complete mess amidst an incomprehensible crime.
As for record-keeping, not only is the Royal TCI Police Force notoriously tight-fisted with information, ignoring requests from the Media companies and others to share crime statistics and other data, but it manages its own database.
The crime data follows a system linked to the TCI’s financial year which means murders and other crimes are collated from April 1st in one year to March 31st in the other; Commissioner Trevor Botting abandoned the calendar year system when he became top cop.
Still, the yearly data is often late and lacking; at seven months into the 2023-2024 financial year, there is still no release of the 2022 statistics on Crime and Detection.
The Guardian piece, published on Monday October 16, said the investigation was prompted by the unprecedented levels of crime experienced in 2022; calling it the worst among territories and the UK itself.
So far the Report, which is vaguely referenced by the new TCI governor, Daleeni Daniel-Selveratnam in her comments to the UK Guardian, has not yet been shared with Turks and Caicos politicians speaking to Magnetic Media.
TCI Police Confirm Passenger Death after Emergency Landing at PLS
A female passenger who fell ill during a flight while on route to Charlotte, North Carolina from the Dominican Republic was taken from that plane and transported to the Cheshire Hall Medical Center where sadly, she died.
The 41-year-old woman had been escorted to the hospital by police units; we are told that CPR was performed on the passenger.
Police in that statement on Wednesday informed, s a post mortem will determine the cause of death.
Police hear major concerns from GT residents
#TurksandCaicos, March 4, 2024 – Given the opportunity to liaison with the top brass of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force, residents came prepared with the concerns that have been plaguing them for years, from detective work to 911 issues.
”Y’all didn’t say anything new, we keep hearing the same thing and we keep getting the same result,” was the complaint from the very first resident who spoke; but her biggest concern was the force’s detective work.
The resident said she was not averse to sharing information with the police, far from it.
“Someone sent me a video where a young man was sitting on a bed putting two bullets in a gun— and he called two names, he said one bullet for one of these people.”
After sending the video to the police the woman says, incredulously, the police asked her to find the room where the young man was so they could go and collect the gun. Her frustration was: “It seems like the police put more of the burden on the community to provide them with information instead of going out there.”
In response to the concern, Dean Holden, Superintendent of Crime expressed that the police had had success recently, and over time because of community intelligence and would do better at working to communicate that success so residents were assured that they were making a difference.
A concern raised by another resident was the disconnect between 911 operators and Grand Turk residents.
“Once you call 911 operators they don’t know addresses in Grand Turk. I called the 911 operator, this was right by the police station, she didn’t even know where I was,” explained a resident sharing details of a car accident weeks prior.
The complaint has been an enduring one. Magnetic Media has received similar complaints regarding other serious incidents like fires and murders.
Oswald Skippings, Former Chief Minister demanded a more proactive approach to crime fighting with which Dileeni Daniel Selvaratnam, TCI Governor agreed. He didn’t just put the blame on the police, drawing the Governor and parents into the limelight outlining that they too had a part to play in the prevention of crime.
“There is a need for the government to reach down to unemployed residents, especially the youth and it’s easy because we have a small native population. We need to go under the trees, by the bars wherever these people associate and reach out to them.”
On the panel listening to the concerns were Micheal Woodbine, Superintendent of Prison; Dean Holden, Superintendent of Crime and SPPU; Rodney Adams, Deputy Commissioner; Chris Eyre, Acting Commissioner; and Dileeni Daniel Selvaratnam, TCI Governor.
The meeting was called after the public slaying of a young man in Grand Turk on February 8, 2024.
Not Enough Police in Grand Turk; Residents are vocal in Anti-Crime Town Hall Meeting
#TurksandCaicos, March 4, 2024 – Residents of Grand Turk, while appreciative of the recent police Anti-Crime Town Hall meeting on February 21, say they’re concerned about the number of officers being deployed to the nation’s Capital.
One resident who spoke to the police officers during the event brought statistics.
”I want to speak to what I see happening in Grand Turk. In the ongoing capacity carrying study. It has been noted that the population in Grand Turk is around 72 to 7300 – that works out to about 927 persons per square mile.”
The resident maintained that 927 persons per square mile on an island like Grand Turk was in the police’s favor and much could be done for crime fighting using both humans and technology. Citing the millions of visitors that visit the island’s shores each year, residents lamented that there was no police enforcement to go along with that.
”We live here, we see the change, probably the parliamentarians don’t see it but we see it and we expect that as citizens to have more than three police officers working the night shift.”
Other residents were in agreement, expressing frustration at the blind eye that they say is often turned to the capital.
“Why did it have to get to this point, that there had to be a shooting basically at the high school in order for people to [realize] that 20 or 15 or 28 officers just doesn’t cut it,” said one longtime resident
He complained that nine years ago, having moved to Grand Turk there were over 40 officers but with the increase in killings in Providenciales officers were stripped from Grand Turk. Now residents say they want them back.
Earlier, during the meeting police had promised that the increased presence in Grand Turk would not be temporary and they were exploring ways to increase the Force complement.
Hosting the meeting were executives of the Royal TCI Police including new Acting Commissioner Christopher Eyre; Dean Holden, Superintendent and Rodney Adams, Deputy Commissioner. Attending were Her Excellency, the Governor Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam and Otis Morris, Minister of Home Affairs and the Member of Parliament for Grand Turk North, the Hon. Otis Morris.
The meeting was held at H.J. Robinson High school.
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