THE OFFICIALS involved in the rescue of kidnap victim Maria Dass-Seepersad, who was snatched from the University of the West Indies (UWI) St Augustine Campus on Wednesday, should be praised for their prompt handling of the matter.
At the same time, the UWI will now have many questions to answer in light of the disturbing breakdown of security measures on campus, and Police Commissioner Gary Griffith must consolidate those approaches that are working to bring about the positive outcomes we have been witnessing recently.
The country needs a respite from the brazen crimes we have been witnessing, Some confidence would have been restored following Wednesday’s success, and we breathe a sigh of relief in the knowledge that the victim was recovered relatively unharmed and that officers were able to take such effective action.
Kudos should be bestowed on members of the National Operations Command Centre, the Special Operations Response Team, the Special Branch, the Anti-Kidnapping Unit, the Inter-Agency Task Force, the Northern Division Task Force, and the E99 Command Centre.
It is hoped the victim and her family will receive appropriate counselling in relation to what must have been a harrowing experience.
While there were no casualties on campus on Wednesday, the fact that shots were fired during the kidnapping means students and others in the vicinity were placed at risk by the perpetrators who must now be subject to the fullest penalties available under the law. In this regard, the choice made by the perpetrators to wear clothing resembling police and army gear is the continuation of a disturbing trend. That trend has served to damage the ability of real officers to do their work.
The Police Service must as a matter of priority seek to examine all options available in order to implement safeguards which could better enable members of the public to identify officers. While this is admittedly a thorny issue, a strong argument can be made for the exploration of tamper-proof forms of identification as well as less easily imitated uniforms.
Undoubtedly these are matters which will engage the attention of Commissioner Griffith as well as the Police Social and Welfare Association. All that notwithstanding, it is clear that someone who knew something said something and the police were able to take the cue. We need more of this trust that the police seem to be getting lately.
With such a positive outcome in this case, we express the hope that similar breakthroughs will be made in other pending matters. Our thoughts go out to the family of 16-year-old student Shindlar Cuffy who was last seen on Monday morning when she was placed by her parents in a taxi headed for the Marabella North Secondary School. It is hoped this matter will be quickly and satisfactorily resolved with an outcome as positive as the Dass-Seepersad case.
Meanwhile, the UWI must take steps to implement better security especially in light of the string of recent incidents on the St Augustine campus. For someone to be abducted in daylight and for shots to be fired on the campus without any form of successful interdiction by campus security must be considered as a cause for grave concern.