Curtis Joel Foster 25, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Barbados High Court on Wednesday, January 20, 2010. He will be sentenced on February 17th next. (Canada.com news here)
Canadian tourist Terry Schwarzfeld was walking at Long Beach at the south coast on February 28, 2009 with her daughter-in-law when Foster attacked and robbed them in broad daylight. When the women resisted, Foster used a piece of wood to club them. Mrs. Schwarzfeld never recovered from her head injuries and died in Canada after she was flown back in a coma.
On the surface this brings some small resolution for the victim’s family and friends, but as much as the word “closure” is thrown around by the news media, we know that the people who loved Terry Schwarzfeld will never forget the circumstances of her passing. Good Bajans everywhere offer their sympathies and regrets and pray that her family and friends will not be lacking in strength and support.
Tourist Murder happened after police ignored a year of robberies and rapes at Long Beach
As much as everyone now regrets the murder of Terry Schwarzfeld, it turns out that a blind man on a fast horse could have seen months in advance what was eventually going to happen to some poor soul at Long Beach.
The Royal Barbados Police Force had to admit publicly that the organisation failed to note the violent crime rampage against tourists at Long Beach for over a year preceding the murder. Long Beach was a robbery and rape “hot spot”, but we Bajans and the tourists were never warned. Neither was there a coordinated police response to stop the attacks.
It turns out that the Commissioner of Police failed to appoint staff to record and analyze crime types and locations to note “hot spots” so that sufficient police resources could be assigned to protect the public or to arrest Curtis Joel Foster and stop his reign of terror. It took the murder of a tourist before anyone paid attention, and even then the police, the government and the Bajan news media initially went into their standard “cover-up” mode that happens when a tourist is attacked. (See BFP’s article Ottawa Citizen Newspaper, National Canadian Coverage: “Bajan Media Ignores Attack On Women. Feisty Barbados Free Press Only Outlet To Speak Out For Schwarzfeld”)
Locating crime hot spots and detailing sufficient officers to protect the public and arrest the culprits is not rocket science, ya know.
As we’ve seen in countless television shows: the police put a big map of the area on the wall. When there is a robbery or violent crime, the officer puts a pin into the map at the location. The colour of the pin tells the type of crime. Then the officer says, “OH! Look at all the pins at Long Beach over the last few months. Rape, robbery, assault. I guess we’d better have a closer look.” Then the officer reads the descriptions of the culprits as given by the victims, notes the time and day of the week and other circumstances and says, “Hey, this looks like one guy is doing this, does his attacks late in the afternoon against lone women tourists at Long Beach. I guess we’d better watch the place or dress up a female police officer like a tourist, have her partners remain hidden and see if we can arrest this man before he kills somebody.”
The police don’t even have to use a fancy computer program, just pins on a map. If our police want a fancy program to map out the crimes, they might want to try using Google Maps for free as many other police forces do. It is really disgusting that Google offers a solution that could have saved Mrs. Schwarzfeld. But, hey – Commissioner Dottin didn’t see fit to put up an ordinary map and some pins on the wall so ya can’t really expect him to be knowledgeable ’bout something as sophisticated as Google Maps that children use to assist them with their school geography projects.
“Somebody” failed to note the violent crime rampage against tourists at Long Beach for over a year. “Somebody” failed to detail sufficient police resources to protect the tourists and arrest the suspect.
And because of those police failures, Canadian tourist Terry Schwarzfeld died – and our most important industry is further imperiled as it is being pummeled by the economic crisis.
“It is time for the Royal Barbados Police Force to have the dynamic leadership and resources that it needs to protect Barbadians, our visitors and our economy. It is time for our government to realize that policing and public safety are more important to our economy than our beaches. It is also time for Commissioner Dottin to do the honourable thing.”
For more background on the year of violent crime at Long Beach and crime statistics, check out BFP’s article Barbados Advocate Covers Up Police Failure To Respond To Theft, Gunshots At Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary
BFP articles about Policing and the Terry Schwarzfeld Murder