Remove blinkers

Conservatism and fear often drive many Barbadians to bury their heads in the sand.

We refuse to recognise glaring realities and to ask the difficult questions.

We comfort ourselves by accepting the seemingly clean plaster placed over any festering sore.

Frequently, the anaesthetised media are as guilty of sleeping on their watch as the average man in the street is of giving in to apathy.

But in small, democratic countries like Barbados, when there is something obviously awry it is incumbent on the country’s leadership to address the situation before it worsens, if it has not already gone beyond the point of no return.

There is something dreadfully wrong in the administration of the Royal Barbados Police Force. It is obvious to those with eyes willing to see, ears to hear and the brains to think.

In any family there will be contentious issues which occasionally cause some disruption or discontent within the fold.

It occurs in the corporate world and it comes to the fore in the public sector. We would be naive to believe that the Royal Barbados Police Force would be immune to the same.

But due to the basically life and death role which the organisation plays, our country’s leaders cannot afford to submerge in inertia.

We have had the unprecedented public call from a senior officer of that establishment for the removal of the Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin for the sake of country and constabulary. We are not a part of the organisation and will not delve into the merits or demerits of the request.

What we will ask is: Was there an investigation by the office of the Attorney General into this call?

We are not aware of any Government investigation nor has there been a public comment from Government on this now more than six-year-old request.

We are aware of the statutory role played by the Police Service Commission in relation to the Royal Barbados Police Force.

We are also aware of the unprecedented poor relationship that exists between that body and the present commissioner.

We are aware of the unprecedented move by the Police Service Commission to bring four charges of professional misconduct against Dottin in 2010.

We are aware that in 2011 the Police Service Commission recommended to the Government that he be replaced. We are also aware than on more than one occasion the commissioner has complained that the commission would neither meet nor cooperate with him.

Two offices that have traditionally worked in unison are now seemingly bitterly opposed to each other and we ask the question: Why is this happening?

Unlike the United States where the tenet of the people’s right to know is alive and well, there is unfortunately no similar obligation on our political directorate. But commonsense should dictate to this island’s leaders that this is an issue too important and too far-reaching, to not only keep John Public in the dark, but seemingly allow to fester.

A check with the courts has revealed that more than a dozen lawsuits have been brought against the office of the Commissioner of Police by police over the last seven years. To put it bluntly, the police have been suing the police with greater frequency than the average citizen.

It is unprecedented and again we ask the question: Why is this happening?

We have had a situation where a number of senior officers, whether through frustration, fatigue or fall-out, opted to retire early from the organisation. We have had officers trained in specialist areas at great expense to Government, either transferred or opting to quit, in highly debatable circumstances.

Why is this happening?

And when there is disruption, invariably John Public suffers.

There is no doubt that generally the Royal Barbados Police Force has done a magnificent job in policing this country over many years.

We do not believe that we can be contradicted if we posit that there is much for which we can praise the Royal Barbados Police Force and which the organisation can boast of having achieved.

But our contention is that the organisation can do even better if problems within are not allowed to worsen and if Government removes the self-installed blinkers from its eyes.

Giving an overall perspective two years ago, highly acclaimed legal luminary Sir Roy Marshall said the administration of justice in Barbados had deteriorated to the stage where it had become an “embarrassment”.

The Royal Barbados Police Force is an important part of the administration of justice in this country and has a proud record.

We would not wish for it to be linked to such embarrassment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *