Sunday, April 14, 2024

JEFF BROOMES: Recognise our true stabilisers


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FOR ALL MY LIFE, I have marvelled at the defining stability, openness and peacefulness of our country. I remember the many comparisons that I have made between our political leaders and those of other countries that promote themselves to be free and democratic.

Why could Prime Minister Barrow so openly shop at the various supermarkets unaccompanied by any observed security? How could Prime Minister Adams walk freely up and down the Bow Road interacting with boyhood friends of both genders in broad daylight? How could Prime Minister Arthur feel so free and secure to actually go into a business establishment and serve customers as though he were a common clerk? We don’t only speak freedom; we have consistently lived it at the highest level.

Then quite recently I got my answers. I was invited to a social gathering of individuals that I have admired and respected from my schoolboy days. There I was a young neophyte both honoured and humbled to be among approximately four hundred years of service in the defence of our country as police and fire chief.

My journey of clarity and understanding began in the immediate post-World War Two years. As they saw it, the need to find work for the leaders of the military who had served in that era helped to bring a number of well-trained and disciplined individuals into all walks of Barbadian civic society, education, business, social services and law enforcement. It was the discipline, the selfless commitment and the high level of accountability that was brought to law enforcement that made the greatest and most lasting impact.

Policing is not and has never been easy. The strategic focus and structures coordinated by the leadership but totally respected and enforced by the subordinates with faith and loyalty are the true manifestation of discipline and order. These have defined the guiding principles of our society which have continued with no excuses or exceptions. We as a country owe a significant debt to these true guardians. Our police throughout the years have been the protectors of our heart and soul.  

As an educational leader, I was emboldened by their affirmation of what I have believed and lived. Leadership must be principled and consistent. Often some of the major decisions are to be made between two equally deserving but competing ideas. The choice made must be aligned to the established and known goals and objectives. These seniors knew it and were able to keep their heads above water when the natural and often uninformed criticism came.

Where else would we have individuals patrolling alone midnight in the lonely country areas because security of the neighbourhood demanded it? Where else would the urgent call after a long and arduous work shift mandate that you simply forget about heading home or to your social gathering and head back to the scene where your presence was needed. Where else would one sacrifice concerns for self and rush into the burning building to save the one from whom the cries and screams are coming? These are the acts of some real heroes.

From among this group of over 70s, the advice came freely and so did the manifestation of happiness, satisfaction in the knowledge of a job well done and the comfort of friendship.

Barbados, we are a great country with much to be proud of. Annually we honour our national heroes but we need also to accept and recognise the true stabilisers of our nation; our police, our nurses, our teachers and our firefighters among others. I am truly thankful for the opportunity to have been exposed to persons and conversation that will forever be indelibly etched on my memory board.

Jeff Broomes is an experienced educator, principal and community organiser who also served as a vice president of the BCA and director of the WICB. Email


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