North Side meeting highlights burglaries

Best police tip – know your officer

Police officers take the stage in North Side on Thursday night. From left, Commissioner Derek Byrne, Inspector Courtney Myles, Sergeant Davis Scott, North Side police constables Davison Crichlow and Brenda Chery, Inspector Winsome Prendergast, and Police Detective Wanda Nixon. - Photo: Carol Winker

Anyone who reports an incident to the police has the right to receive updates on that report, Commissioner of Police Derek Byrne said Thursday night during a public meeting at the Craddock Ebanks Civic Centre in North Side. The best way to ensure getting those updates is to know the name of the officer who took the report.

“You’re entitled to know,” Mr. Byrne assured his audience while responding to one person with a particular complaint. The officer who responds to the report of a suspected crime is responsible for following through; he or she is accountable for his or her actions or inactions, he said.

“If he or she is not doing the job, let me know,” he said.

The specific complaint was that property had been stolen from a man’s boat the previous weekend while he was at Kaibo with friends. He said police attended and took a report, but then nothing happened. Before the public meeting, the man had spoken to Kaibo’s manager, who asked him when police were coming to look at the CCTV on site.

Mr. Byrne said it was the function of the officer to seize the CCTV at the first opportunity: “If there’s a failure, we need to deal with it.”

The commissioner offered to set up a face-to-face meeting with the complainant and the officer to get to the bottom of the problem.

Reported incidents are placed in a Record Management System known as RMS and assigned numbers. The person who makes a report can ask for the RMS number and can inquire about updates, he said.

Inspector Winsome Prendergast, area commander for the eastern districts, added that officers who take reports can request assistance from specialists within the police department.

Mr. Byrne noted: “We should be able to copy footage from your [CCTV] system pretty quickly.”

His remark was during a discussion of residential burglaries. Ms. Prendergast began that portion of the meeting by reporting statistics for the district. Between Jan. 1 and July 23, 2018, there were 20 reported burglaries in North Side and seven attempted burglaries. In about 90 percent of the incidents, there was no forced entry, she said. Challenged on that point, she explained that when the crime scene officers go to the premises, they cannot say that locks were tampered with. She suggested that property managers brief guests about security and advised having dead bolt locks on doors.

Some of the difficulties in solving burglaries are because there were no eyewitnesses, no CCTV, no sign of forced entry. Another factor was guests who leave the island without cooperating with police.

Mr. Byrne identified 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. as the time a lot of the break-ins had occurred. He warned about the recent “spree” of breaking into vehicles and expressed some frustration that police were not getting information from the community about who was handling stolen goods.

District MLA Ezzard Miller said there had been instances of private security companies not giving access to cameras.

Ms. Prendergast pointed out that a camera on one person’s property could capture what happened on a neighbor’s property.

For the district burglaries this year to date, she said three suspects had been identified, but there have been no convictions yet.

“Most of the problems today stem from crimes committed by our young people. Many of them have no regard for the law,” Ms. Prendergast said. She referred to the adage older generations knew – that it takes a community to raise a child. “Where has that gone?” she asked. “We need to get that back.”

People who live in a community must own that community – know their neighbors and have fellowship together, she urged.

She said police were encouraging the formation of neighborhood watch programs, increasing visible patrols in the district and identifying “hot spots” that warrant particular attention. There are plans to have the North Side Police Station open during certain hours in the near future, she said.