Are police afraid to patrol Ottley Hall?
Some residents of the Ottley Hall community believe the police stationed in the area are afraid to be there, as they hardly venture out of the police station to conduct patrols.
The residents expressed this view about the police following a murder in the community on April 12, followed by an outburst of gunfire on April 15.
Ottley Hall, a neighbourhood that over the years has become known for crime and violence, had quietened down for several months, but tension between warring factions in the area is rising once again.
The latest victim of the deadly violence is 34-year-old Shemeal Bowens, who was shot multiple times while sitting at the side of the road waiting for her five children to return from church.
In efforts to curb violent crime in the area, police placed a mobile police unit in the area a few years ago, then more recently converted a residence in the area into a police station, where officers are stationed 24 hours a day.
But according to Florence Bowens, Shemealâs grandmother, âover here donât have no control.â
She said that in her opinion, it seems as if the police are scared to be in the area and hardly venture out of the station.
â…I donât know why the station is there; they donât come out,â stressed Bowens on Tuesday, while sitting at her shop in Ottley Hall.
The elderly woman said that persons have complained that if they go to the police at the makeshift station to report a crime, they are usually redirected to Kingstown.
âThe station is no use; it makes sense they leave the station and let things stay how it is. If someone get shoot, police donât come close. They tell you call the other police. They donât come out. You have to wait for police from Kingstown, so it makes no use,â said Bowens.
Other residents of the area, speaking on the condition of anonymity, supported Bowensâ claims. One man said that after police officers make their scheduled rounds, they lock themselves away in the station and are oblivious to what is taking place outside.
âWe donât see them after a certain time, so they have no idea what is going on outside, so the gunmen and whoever can prowl freely,â said the male resident.
An irate man, who also asked that his name not be mentioned, said that the police seem to be scared to patrol the area.
âThatâs their job and they seem frighten; if they see something they donât go near,â said the angry man, using several expletives to show his anger.
He also alleged that police usually entertain women at the station and seem to be preoccupied with that.
Commissioner of Police (COP) Renold Hadaway, however, told SEARCHLIGHT that while the officers stationed at Ottley Hall are equipped to take statements, they are in the area specifically to liaise with the public and ascertain what is happening and try to see how the police can address the issue of gun violence and other issues that plague the community.
He said that he would look into the allegations made against the police stationed in the area.
The Commissioner also explained that if something happens in the area and has to be dealt with urgently, the officers in the area are to respond immediately.
But while many persons see the area as a hot spot, one woman said that persons have nothing to fear while visiting the area.
âLook you all here now and nothing ainât happening to you all,â said the woman, while speaking to SEARCHLIGHT staffers on Tuesday.
But despite those claims, last Saturday, two groups of men opened fire in the area, sending villagers scampering. Reports are that one group returned fire after being shot at by an opposing gang. The group that returned fire is said to have been made up of at least one relative of the murdered woman.
Police are yet to charge anyone in relation to Shemealâs murder or Saturdayâs shooting, but a number of persons have been detained, questioned and released.
Last week Wednesday was not the first time a woman was shot and killed at Ottley Hall.
On December 3, 2008, Jomo Brudy, a resident of the neighbouring community of Edinboro, was walking in Ottley Hall with Shereen Clouden, also of Edinboro, when someone shot at both of them. Brudy lived, but Clouden died.
On January 4, 2012, Alvisha âMiceyâ Browne, a 19-year-old mother of three, was shot at Ottley Hall while she was at a village shop. Browne was hit several times in the head at close range and died on the spot.