Cops apologise - JCF expresses regret to family for confusion over which division should investigate teen's death
A senior member of the police force has apologised on behalf of his colleagues to the Clarendon family that was thrown into grief on Sunday night after waiting more than eight hours for the police from two different stations to decide on which division should investigate the death of their loved one and remove the body from the scene at the border of two parishes.
The body of 16-year-old Camaley Moxam was found at a quarry on lands that line the two central parishes of Clarendon and St Catherine.
After the cops from both parishes were alerted around 3 o'clock on Sunday afternoon, it took them more than eight hours to determine which division should process the scene, remove the body, and further investigate the teen's death.
Head of the Area Three police, which comprises Clarendon, Manchester, and St Elizabeth, Assistant Commissioner Donovan Graham, admitted to The Gleaner that the police took a long time to determine who should investigate the teen's death.
"The time that elapsed was very unfortunate, and I wish to say to the family that we are very sorry for the distress and the anguish it may have caused them. We can sincerely say to them and the public that this will not happen again," Graham said.
As the family waited for the police to map the border on Sunday, the teen's father, 43-year-old Christopher Moxam, said he got frustrated and left the scene because the investigators refused to allow his family to properly identify the teen's body.
"The first set of police who arrived on the crime scene said they are not responsible for processing this death. That upset me. They should not have said that out of them mouth. That hurt me because that shows that something wrong with the justice system in the country. It better them did find out than say they are not responsible," the teen's father said.
Moxam said some cops then drove away, leaving only two cops at the scene with residents.
"It is in a bush - no light, no road. What if my son was murdered and the criminals decided to retaliate against the family? Those two police couldn't do anything," Moxam said as he bemoaned the way the police handled his son's death.
The Jamaica Constabulary Force's communications officer, Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay, said it was the protocol for police from different divisions to consult when deaths occurred at parish borders.
She said it was not unusual for crime scenes to take hours to be completely processed as happened on Sunday night.
But Graham said that the long wait occurred because of the absence of a global positioning system (GPS) device to determine the parish in which the death had occurred.
Lindsay said that such devices are in short supply in the force; however, she said that the police have since used a GPS device to establish the exact parish in which the death occurred.
As a result, the Clarendon police have taken charge of the investigations. Head of that division, Superintendent Vendolyn Cameron Powell, has reported that initial evidence suggests that the teen may have fallen from a cliff into a pool of water at the quarry where his body was found.
In the meantime, Moxam's family said that they accepted the police's apology, but they were urging the cops to get their act together.
"This is just disheartening. The family sees what happened as slack. The police need to revamp certain protocol because it should be clear what they should do when they get to a scene," said a family member.
Moxam reportedly left home Saturday night and told his family that he was going to visit his grandfather, who resides in the same community.
His relatives became worried and reported him missing when he did not return home up to Sunday afternoon.
They reported him missing at the Old Harbour Police Station and were later alerted to a body at a quarry in Freetown, Clarendon, around 3 p.m. on Sunday.