Quinn-Williams urges recall of police officers deployed to St. Lucia, saying they are needed at home now more than ever

Pearl Quinn-Williams is imploring the Government to recall those police officers who were deployed to St. Lucia to assist in that country’s fight against crime, saying they are needed here, in Antigua and Barbuda, now more than ever.

Quinn-Williams, the United Progressive Party’s caretaker for St. John’s Rural North, made the call during a meeting convened by the local Syrian community on Tuesday night, May 23, following Monday’s murder of a young businessman – Roudi Shmaly – on DeSouza Road.

In the discussion about the rise in violent crime, she notes, there has been much talk about punishment of the perpetrators. However, she says, punishing the criminal does not bring the victim back; neither does increasing the severity of the punishment deter criminals from carrying out their acts.

Therefore, Quinn-Williams says, it makes better sense for the authorities to “concentrate on the prevention” of criminal activity.

To achieve this, she acknowledges that a greater police presence is needed, and she commends the Government’s stated intention of hiring additional officers. However, she says, 50 new officers are not enough, given that the numbers in the Force already are decreasing by natural attrition.

“We need more than 50, because we need to have almost 24-hour surveillance of a lot of the areas … the communities, St. John’s, the whole country, for that matter,” Quinn-Williams declares.

And when these officers have been hired, she says, they have to be consistent. “Not just when an incident happens, then you see the stop-and-searches increase,” she adds.

Further, the Police need to execute regular patrols beyond the main roads, and they must get “into the nooks and crannies… 24 hours a day,” she advises.

Quinn-Williams, the UPP’s spokesperson on the City of St. John’s, also notes that there are some places that are open late for business, and she believes that patrols by the Defence Force would go a long way in helping to protect them.

In the meantime, Quinn-Williams assures the Government that the UPP is fully on board with progressive measures to “rid Antigua of this scourge [of crime] we’re seeing right now.”

Meanwhile, the mood of the meeting is described by an attendee as a mixture of anger, sadness, frustration, fear and mistrust.

Reportedly, the presentation by Public Safety Minister Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin did not generate much confidence among the audience or any hope that the situation would change – with one person describing it as “the same talk they have been hearing for years.”

Rural North MP Charles “Max” Fernandez also addressed the audience and reported that a suspect in the murder is already in custody. MP Daryl Matthew, in whose constituency the crime took place, was present, as well.