Police Administration Building in Port-of-Spain
I would like to pay homage to my new personal hero Maureen Dilchan Maharajh.
Who is this woman you ask and what has she done to deserve such admiration?
Maureen Dilchan Maharajh is a woman seeking justice. She wants retribution for her husband’s death and she’s got no time for any slackness from absent police officers.
Before you picture her going all John Wick, allow me to give you some background.
On August 15, 2011, Maureen’s life changed. On a drive home from Manzanilla her husband, her two sons and herself were hit by another car. While she and her sons survived, with injury, her husband sadly passed away.
The driver of the car that hit them was charged with reckless driving. It wouldn’t bring her husband back, but to her having that driver made accountable for their actions was what she needed to give her peace.
Unfortunately Cpl Dindial Joseph, the police officer assigned to the case, didn’t really care if Maureen got the justice she wanted.
You see six years after the accident the case was dismissed because Joseph failed to show up to court eight times.
Maureen was angry, she was even more angry when disciplinary action taken against Cpl Joseph was ended because apparently he had a sick note for one of his absences and the police claimed they could not retrieve the documents from the court to show he missed the other dates. Hummm.
Yeah, home girl wasn’t dealing with this level of tomfoolery. So she lawyered up big time and made herself a thorn in the police commissioner’s side.
This week she received permission from Justice Devindra Rampersard to challenge the police commissioner’s decision to end the disciplinary action against Cpl Joseph.
She wants his tail on the line.
Now I understand Maureen, if for some reason I lost my husband in a similar manner and my hope for justice was thrown out because of an errant police officer, who was barely given a tap on the wrist, I would go on the war path too.
Naturally, I tend to be a bit dramatic. So rather than going back to court, I would dress up like the grim reaper and park up outside of the police headquarters, ringing a bell, wildly wailing and swinging chicken carcass with my free hand. I would do this every day, and at night I would stand outside the police commissioner’s residence. I would probably be sent to St Ann’s, but it would be totally worth it.
A lot of people have been giving Maureen flack for running behind what they consider a lost cause, but as she stated in her case this isn’t just about her.
Police absences in court are common here in T&T. Due to some police officers lackadaisical approach to their courtroom responsibilities countless matters have been dismissed by the courts. As a result not only has justice not been served providing comfort to many victims but it has also allowed for potentially dangerous people to walk freely without consequence.
In Maureen’s statement to the court she cited the fact that one of accused killers of Andrea Bharatt had matters before the court including charges of rape and assault that were dismissed because of police no-shows.
Had those police officers been in court would Andrea still be with us?
What ticked off Maureen the most was that Cpl Joseph was not adequately disciplined for his role in having her husband’s case dismissed.
Poor excuses and even a poorer investigation let Cpl Joseph off the hook.
This again all comes down to accountability, something that is greatly lacking in our country.
I am not bashing police officers; there are so many good officers that it is a shame that one or two rotten apples ruin the whole bunch.
However, the reality is if there is no accountability in our police service how can we expect people to be held accountable for their crimes?
The main reason we have an extraordinarily high crime rate has a lot to do with the fact that people know they can commit crime without impunity.
Chances are they won’t get caught and if they do all it takes is a missing police officer or some other hiccup to allow them to roam free.
I understand Maureen. Hell hath no fury like a woman seeking justice and I hope she gets it.
I hope she gets the justice she needs to heal. I hope she sets precedent for change and for all others who are in her position to get the justice they need.