Sunday, April 14, 2024

EDITORIAL: Police must keep following high standards


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THE SCEPTICS MAY have sniggered when a visiting senior United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) expert last week heaped praise on the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF), describing it as virtually corruption-free in the drugs underworld. 

The agent’s conclusion would have been gleaned from his agency’s interaction with the local constabulary over a sustained period and its own intelligence.

Obviously, some Barbadians will hold a different view. But, we should not be such doubting Thomases that we cannot take comfort in the assessment of the DEA which will hardly arrive at any such conclusion lightly.

We should instead applaud the RBPF and suggest that Acting Commissioner Tyrone Griffith ensure that his team scores highly, not only in fighting the illegal drugs trade but in other areas. This will obviously call for more specialised training for our lawmen who are expected to be experts in many different areas.

Gone are the days when police officers were seen as mainly “big, black and bad” and were often accused, for example, of extorting confessions from people without due respect for their rights. The police must recognise that changes in society have been such that there are eyes on nearly everything they do. Recent developments in the United States where police have been caught in breach of common principles of law enforcement should in many cases serve as a sane reminder to officers that they must always do what is right.

These points should not be foreign to our police as Acting Deputy Commissioner Oral Williams recently reminded the force of the need to treat the wider society kindly, since policing cannot be successful unless the community cooperates.

Barbados is fortunate not to have the stain of widespread distrust and charges of corruption levelled as in some other Caribbean constabularies. We acknowledge that many in our society rejoice in the “tear-down-and-destroy syndrome” which bedevils our society. The history of the RBPF over the past three decades would suggest that where there has been clear evidence of impropriety those found wanting have either made a hasty exit or have been booted out. This is perhaps why there is a level of cooperation which supports rather than hinders investigations, enabling the RBPF to record a relatively high rate of solving serious crimes.

Our men in blue can be justly proud of the “clean bill” of service they have been given but must do even more to enhance their customer service and appreciation for people’s rights. They must also understand and appreciate diversity when dealing with the public, regardless of status.

The RBPF must do whatever it takes to ensure it remains a high-quality and valued professional service organisation, even to the most cynical Barbadian.


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