(JAMAICA GLEANER) – The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is insisting that there are no restrictions on the hours citizens may turn up at police stations to file complaints.
In the past week, there have been at least two incidents where the victims of crimes were reportedly turned away after showing up at a police station during curfew hours.
Two weeks ago when Christine Donaldson fled from her abuser’s house to the Constant Spring Police Station, the last thing she expected to hear was that she could be arrested for breaking the nightly curfew orders.
Donaldson said after being badly beaten up by her boyfriend on October 28, she decided to go to the Constant Spring Police Station some time between midnight and 1 a.m, since it was nearest to where he lives.
She said, at first it appeared that no one was at the police station as the door was closed, but after some time, a policeman eventually opened the door.
“He put his head out and said, ‘Miss, you don’t know you are not supposed to be on the road because it is after curfew’,” Donaldson said the policeman told her.
The woman said she told the cop that she was there to make a report because she had just been beaten up.
But Donaldson said the officer, who later identified himself as ‘Sergeant Tucker’ told her that he couldn’t take the report since the curfew was in effect.
The government has implemented a 9 p.m to 5 am daily curfew in a bid to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
“Sergeant Tucker said that he had to arrest me because I should know the law that I should not be on the road,” Donaldson said.
The woman said after showing him her bruises, he told her to go home and call 119 and to come back in the morning when the curfew is lifted.
Donaldson said she went home and called 119 and was told by the operator and then a corporal that she was free to go to the police station at any hour.
Even so, they instructed her to revisit the police station when the curfew was lifted.
Donaldson said she did so shortly before 6 a.m. and this time round, she saw a different policeman who took her report and told her that there was no restrictions on visits to police stations.
Donaldson said Tucker who was still on duty then intervened and defended his position.
“Sergeant Tucker said, ‘Look here, the law said you are not supposed to be on the road in the night’,” she recounted.
Donaldson’s complaint about the action of the policeman is similar to one by web developer and graphic artist Jermaine Byfield, who uses the Twitter handle @wabamonsta.
On the weekend, he posted: “So they broke into my car in Hope Pastures. Contacted the police. They came to the scene and ask me to go to the Maltilda’s Corner (Police) to report it. Reach Matilda’s Corner exactly 9:05 pm Sat. 7th of November. Officer Morgan refuses to help.”
Byfield said he was told that he cannot physically report a crime after 9 p.m. because of the curfew.
But JCF spokesperson Dennis Brooks is maintaining that there is no cut-off point for police stations.
“Police stations are accessible 24 hours per day, so there is no time that you should go to a police station and be told that there is a curfew and they can’t assist you,” he told The Gleaner.