ANIAH MC LEOD will never know her father. She will never have another birthday. She will never start school.
Two-year-old Aniah will never have the luxury of doing things like reading this editorial. Nor will she get a chance to write passionate letters to the editor.
Unlike Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, she will never be able to state her views on whether people should protest each time there is a murder. She will never update her social media as soon as some fresh thought enters her head.
Little Aniah and her father are dead. They were brutally killed days before Father’s Day. A routine activity – a drive through the neighbourhood – turned into every parent’s nightmare.
This is appalling. There must be justice.
Undoubtedly, that is the focus of the criminal justice system right now. But the situation is not aided by the distraction of Mr Griffith’s attempt to use a child’s death to make a point.
“When will I expect to obtain the requests for marches, and protests against such acts of barbarous brutality against our children?” the top cop asked in a social media post on Saturday. “I await the sound and fury…or is this outburst, hurt and pain, conveniently felt only when police are involved?”
The challenges facing the criminal justice system can appear insurmountable. Witnesses are afraid or unwilling to come forward. Some are killed. Forensic facilities are under pressure. Courts are leaking. Evidence goes missing. Jury trials are tampered with.
Perhaps the CoP’s frustration should be understood in this light. “If this doesn’t move us to work together, I am not certain what can,” he mused.
But belligerence does not inspire co-operation. Especially if you are trying to turn the tide, to get people to have faith in your impressive reforms and to join in those efforts by providing information.
Mr Griffith’s attempt to call out the hypocrisy of society and, in the process, bolster the position of officers who face questions over use of force, appears more vexed and vexing than persuasive.
We agree every murder deserves outrage. We agree there is sometimes a disconnect, an appearance of apathy. But when you consider that there are frequently more murders than there have been days of the year, it is easy to see what might be feeding the lack of overt remonstration.
People are fed up. And they begin to suffer compassion fatigue, or lose hope that this will ever change. Sadly, they may be fed up with the CoP’s conduct.
In relation to police killings, he has repeatedly underestimated their poisonous effect.
Who will dare to co-operate with the police in solving crime if they do not trust those same police to keep them safe thereafter?