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Letter: Grenada's police officers need ethics and discipline
Published on May 10, 2017 Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

In Grenada, the innocents are convicted far more frequently than those who operate the system dare to believe. One primary purpose of Grenada’s civil rights laws is to protect citizens from abuses by government, including police misconduct. Although police officers generally have some powers to carry out their duties, Grenada’s constitution and laws, however, place limits on how far they can go in trying to enforce the law.

Police officers are required to carry out their duties with a punctilious regard for the constitutional rights of every Grenadian citizens, who are entitled to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” without unjustified interference by the police.

Unfortunately today, corruption in Grenada, within the police force has taken over, and police officers are overstepping their authority and violating people’s rights, often doing so intentionally and maliciously.

The most common form of civil rights cases involves false arrest, as in the case I will address here. This is quite common in Grenada, because the citizens don’t know their rights. False arrest occurs when a police officer detains or confines a person against his own will and without proper legal authority.

Stranded passengers in St George’s were prohibited by a female police officer Kathy Ann Smith from boarding a bus that was going to take them to their destination, after they faced a long wait to board a delayed bus. They were forced to scramble for substitute transportation after their bus didn’t show up. Tired and hungry and wanting to get to their homes, they boarded another bus that came to their rescue. That bus it seems was prohibited from soliciting passengers along the bus route.

The stranded passengers were immediately commanded to get off the bus by the female officer, who verbally abused and insulted the passengers. Frustration soon turned to anger with passengers and the officer locked in a verbal altercation. One witness said, “The passengers only wanted to get home to their family. The officer did not use discretion; maybe she did not learn that in the police academy.”

The safety of the citizens should have been her primary concern. Instead she chose to arrest one of the passengers whose only crime was to explain to her the situation that was unfolding with the buses.

The female police officer, Kathy Ann Smith last week demonstrated willful and unreasonable conduct becoming of an officer in the arrest of a citizen, who responded to her nasty and malicious verbal abuse against him and other witnesses.

In that case, the officer violated the individual’s constitutional rights. She lacked probable cause to initiate criminal proceedings. This was clearly a false arrest. She got in his face, pointed her fingers back and forth, was disrespectful towards the passengers. He did nothing wrong, no swearing, no threats. A female passenger who was present made a video of what transpired that evening, but she was threatened with arrest, if she ever posted it online. My advice to her: “Get that video to the commissioner immediately.” A young innocent man now has a criminal record that he doesn’t deserve.

After verbally abusing the passengers, she left the scene only to return with two male officers and arrested only the young man, and laid some seven bogus trumped up charges against him. He was held for two nights and refused bail. He was also charged with resisting arrest. Even though he left without a fuss with the officers, according to eyewitnesses.

In reality, the young man is an innocent victim, who was arrested in retaliation for speaking up. He was punished by the female officer for answering back. This was clearly an unlawful arrest and detention of an innocent young man, expressing his rights guaranteed to him and the other passengers by the Grenada constitution. This behaviour by a police officer stems from a type of “occupational arrogance” because she thinks her authority should not be challenged or questioned.

Mr Prime Minister, the look-the-other-way approach in Grenada to police misconduct creates a culture of corruption that can have dangerous and deadly consequences. The people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique cannot continue to condone this despicable behaviour. Accountability should be a vital element in Grenada’s policing.

Grenada’s police officers should be protecting, helping the communities and neutralizing situations, not escalating them. Not all police officers are bad, but when they make a mistake they should own up to it, and be disciplined. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Bad officers need to know that Grenadian people are serious and we will fight for change.

Some of the police officers need ethics and discipline because, without it, police officers are nothing more than government thugs with badges and guns. There are those who say that is exactly how it is with some police officers in Grenada today. But if that is the truth, and all cops were rogue and ran around being lawless, Grenada, our country would be very different

Others say the real reason is that Grenada’s criminal justice is so rotten and corrupt it merits nothing so much as being torn down to its foundations, and rebuilt.

Someone has to be held accountable for this young 22-year-old having a criminal record attached to him. That record can alter the entire course of his life, as job and college applications routinely ask if one has ever been convicted of a crime.

This happens quite a lot in Grenada. This has got to stop. People take guilty plea deals knowing they didn’t commit a crime. This is not okay. Instead of fighting the seven charges leveled against the young man, who asserted his innocence, his lawyer advised him to plead guilty… shameful. This lawyer should be punished in a meaningful way for his transgressions.

This case is deeply disturbing on almost too many levels to count. This young man was arrested for speaking up, and left traumatized by an unremittingly brutal and corrupt police environment towering before him, and the power of the courts, commonly viewed as a cold faceless bureaucracy.

We are determined to expose the machinations of the leviathan that chews through the lives of innocent Grenadians.

The young man spent two days in lock up and has missed work days, which might cause him to lose his job. On top of that he was charged EC$1,500 by the lawyer. “Accept the deal and go home with a criminal record.” This is the pain and sadness that he is dealing with. Too many people are facing similar charges, lack the same determination to prove their innocence. As a united Grenadian people, we must fight back against this disgusting form of police abuse and corruption. Grenadians in the diaspora are calling on the DA to drop all charges, because the verdict and charges should never have been brought.

If an attorney doesn’t adequately advise or explain everything to a client, or fails to negotiate a plea bargain on his client behalf, then the client might have a viable claim for ineffective assistance of counsel. But arguing that you had ineffective assistance of counsel after you have pleaded guilty is a difficult task. You have to prove that your lawyer did a terrible job and the terrible job made a difference in the outcome of your case.

Or the DA will just throw out the bogus charges

This young man must contact a qualified civil rights attorney immediately, to protect his rights, because he is a victim of police misconduct. Grenadians please know your rights, read, read.

Do not allow yourselves to be intimidated by any police officer. Police may illegally seize or delete evidence recorded by citizens, notwithstanding laws that make it a crime to destroy evidence of a crime being committed, irrespective of whether the crime was committed by civilians or by police officers.

Helen Grenade
Reads: 5253

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