Spike in domestic violence-related homicides worries senior cop

Observer West reporter

Thursday, October 15, 2020

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FALMOUTH, Trelawny -Expressing concern that more than 50 per cent of the 18 murders committed in Trelawny so far this year stem from domestic violence, commanding officer for the parish, Superintendent Kirk Ricketts, is seeking collaboration to address the worrisome issue.

“My concern is that over 50 per cent of my murders are being driven by unresolved domestic conflicts or arguments so we are trying to improve our response to that,” Ricketts told the Jamaica Observer West said.

Just last week, the police recorded two murders in the parish, both of them attributed to domestic disputes.

During the latest incident a 50-year-old farmer, Robert Gordon of Mahogany Hall, died as result of chop wounds he sustained during a fight with another community member. Since then, 34-year- old Murvin Jack has been charged with Gordon's murder.

The incident came a few days after 48-year-old taxi operator Ainsworth Fairclough of Stettin was fatally stabbed during an alleged altercation with 55-year-old Douglas Dyer of the same address.

Dyer has since been charged with murder.

A piece of land on which Dyer was building a road to his home was reportedly at the heart of the dispute.

During an exclusive interview with the Observer West earlier this week, Superintendent Ricketts revealed that the police have intensified their efforts to partner with stakeholders, including the Trelawny Lay Magistrates Association, to assist in resolving disputes among community members, especially in the southern parts of the parish, where bloodshed sparked by disputes are most rampant.

“We are acutely aware that more than half of our murders are because of unresolved conflicts and the inability of persons to really resolve these issues without resorting to violence. But it is clear that it is not a police alone issue. We have to have a multi-pronged approach to dealing with this in the parish. I am saying that we do have a close working relationship with most of the stakeholders...we talking now about the lay magistrates association and the ministers fraternal. We also want to have further engagements with citizen community groups, particularly in those areas in the south [Trelawny],” the head of the Trelawny police division stated.

President of the Trelawny Lay Magistrates Association, Hugh Kenneth Grant, who called for church members, justices of the peace and other stakeholders to play a part in resolving disputes, said he has been consistently championing the cause in his Albert Town community.

“I know the one [murder] that happened in Stettin last week is a dispute over land. A man making a roadway and another man got upset...it is just something that could be dealt with. I say to people, listen, if you are not even involved and you know of your neighbour having a dispute, talk to the justice [of the peace] nuh man. Talk to them, say listen to me I know that my neighbours are having a problem, I am concerned and I want you to intervene. People have to come on board and play a part,” said Grant, who is also a prominent businessman in Albert Town.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Ricketts revealed that Dyer had reported to the police that he was having a dispute with Fairclough, but the taxi operator thwarted all efforts by the police to meet with him to resolve the matter.

The senior cop revealed that the police in the division are now looking at improving areas where they can track the progress of reported cases of disputes.

“We want to look if we can even better deal with these by having different officers trying to intervene because while the investigating officer had gone there two to three times, we probably need to implement a better tracking system and that is something that myself and the management team have been discussing to do,” he told the Observer West.

He disclosed that on Monday the managers of all nine police stations in the division were briefed on a plan to improve the tracking of domestic conflicts, which will see the community, safety and security branch (CSSB) officer playing a major role.

“We have come up with a way to improve the tracking which will be led by the station managers at the nine stations, but at the headquarters level, my CSSB coordinator will now have that oversight to report to the management as to how the station managers are tracking the conflicts,” Superintendent Ricketts noted.

He further noted: “My coordinator will now visit the stations, look within the various registers to see how well we are responding to conflicts that were reported to the police and how often the location is revisited. And the intention that we have with this improved approach is to track the conflict until it reaches a natural resolution.”

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