Reneto Adams wants citizens to help fight crime

October 03, 2023

Retired crime-fighter Reneto Adams is advocating for greater citizen involvement in reducing crime, following Sunday's recapture of murder accused Troy Ellis who escaped custody from a health facility.

His comments came after news spread that a woman, who is a licensed firearm holder, captured Ellis after he fled the St Ann's Bay Regional Hospital on Saturday night.

Ellis is suspected of murdering nine-year-old Talia Thompson. Ellis' identity was widely disseminated following his escape. The woman reportedly recognised Ellis while in a motor vehicle and promptly took action to detain him. She subsequently handed him over to the Discovery Bay Police Station.

Adams stated, "Throughout history, it has been intended for citizens to use their initiative, powers of observation, and knowledge about individuals wanted for, or in the act of committing crimes. Under common law, they have the authority to detain such individuals and deliver them to the nearest police station."

In Jamaica's legal framework, the common law permits citizens to take action in apprehending individuals suspected of committing serious crimes in cases where law enforcement may not be immediately available. Such an act is commonly referred to as a citizen's arrest.

Senior attorney-at-law, Leonard Green, has affirmed that the woman acted well within the boundaries of the law.

He explained, "Arrests are typically carried out by members of the constabulary force under the Constabulary Force Act, given they possess the authority to arrest individuals with reasonable cause. However, citizens can also make arrests based on common law principles in situations where it is justifiable. These circumstances often involve witnessing a felony in progress or having reasonable suspicion that an offence has been committed. It's important to note that the exercise of this power must be reasonable; excessive force can result in liability for false imprisonment."

Adams opined that citizens possess valuable information, and "if we had more instances like this, we could solve many more crimes in our country".

"It sets a positive example, particularly for those who may feel disconnected from or fearful of getting involved in such matters. I hope this courageous woman receives significant recognition for her efforts. Her actions serve as an inspiration to everyone, dispelling apathy and encouraging active engagement with community safety," he said.

Adams is optimistic about the broader implications of citizens taking action.

He asserted, "With more individuals actively participating, criminals will be more cautious, knowing that vigilant citizens can effectively make arrests. In women arming themselves and boldly confronting suspects, there may not be so much of a negative impact, but rather a positive one, as it will inspire more women and men to take a stand against criminal elements. People will look up to her and the ripple effect will be tremendous."

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