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Editorial: Could The Police Have Prevented Double Murder?

IT must be heartbreaking beyond belief for the family of Alicia Sawyer and eight-year-old Ednique Wallace to be left asking “What if?”

The 30-year-old mother and her daughter were found dead in their Nassau Village home on Monday morning.

“Who could have done such a thing?” people asked in the immediate aftermath.

Well, it appears police were alerted beforehand by the mother herself about a danger. Police would not confirm directly if Ms Sawyer had made a complaint in the hours before her death – but Commissioner Rolle tacitly admitted as much in saying that his force had “several units all over the city trying to find this culprit and in the midst of that he was able to return to this place… well I assume… which we suspect that he returned and then we had what took place. Which is sad.”

He went on: “All night they were out in search for him and until we found him. At the time when we found him, unfortunately this woman was found dead.”

It appears a concern was raised, police acted upon that complaint to try to find a suspect – and they overlooked the most important thing. No one was there to protect Ms Sawyer and little Ednique.

What would it have taken to put a police car outside their door? If police were concerned enough to scour the island, wouldn’t it make sense to put someone on watch over those at risk while they carry out that hunt?

You don’t need a doctor to tell you that prevention is always best – and yet here we are with police having had an opportunity to potentially prevent a crime, and a tragic double loss of life – and instead we have tears and recrimination.

Commissioner Rolle suggested yesterday that the police will do a “media blitz” on the issue of domestic violence. Too little, too late for Ms Sawyer and Ednique. Too little, too late if it’s all talk and no action. Too little, too late if there is no reform within the police force itself of how to address domestic violence cases and the steps to take to treat it as a priority.

What more can a parent do than alert the police and tell them they are at risk? The police had an opportunity to prevent a tragedy. They did not.

What if a police car had been there? What if both victims had been relocated to a safe place while the search took place? What if there were other measures that could have been taken to protect them.

A “media blitz” won’t help any of that, Commissioner Rolle. So unless you’ve got something more than just talk, save it. Your words fall short for Ms Sawyer and Ednique’s family, just as your force’s actions did the same. There needs to be far more than words if we are to believe there will not be another tragedy like this one.

Another week, another plan

Out with the old plan, in with the new one.

The quarantine plan for tourists is being tossed out. So much for “Vacation in Place”, which was a non-starter of an idea from the start, as we said in this column.

Instead, here comes testing on arrival, plus testing four days later. Again, readers of this column may think this sounds familiar – it’s similar to a plan touted for the UK that we mentioned here some time back.

The tests being used for tourists are less reliable than the standard ones – which is a frustration – but they are faster. Other countries have been looking at this method – so we hope the government is staying abreast of how those countries are faring as a result.

That’s the good news – the bad news is a top expert has confirmed that the number of cases officially confirmed in The Bahamas may have been some way off from the actual number.

Dr Nikkiah Forbes said that cases “could have been” as high as 453 cases on March 22, a day when the country had confirmed just four cases.

She said: “We have to remember that the testing capacity was not what it is today and that testing was prioritized for the sickest symptomatic people in March and so, without a doubt, the numbers then would have to be an underestimate.”

It is good to know testing capacity has increased – Minister of Health Renward Wells saying that we are now able to do almost 1,000 tests a day – though it is a frustration to know that as those questions about increased testing were being asked, top health experts were downplaying the need.

We need to keep expanding that capacity – not least with schools reopening and tourists about to start arriving again if this new plan goes as hoped. That’s our key to finding and isolating cases – without that, we’re fumbling in the dark.

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