Faith in cops
Survey shows Public has confidence In police force
Two members of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) top brass have said a firm “no” to allowing people with dreadlocks and nontraditional hairstyles into the law enforcement agency.
Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith and Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police Eucklyn Thompson gave the thumbs down to the recommendation during today’s launch of the Customer Satisfaction Survey that gave mixed reviews of lawmen.
In addition to the public’s suggestions about officers’ dress and deportment, the Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit in the Office of the Attorney General found that people highly favour the police force and have confidence in its ability to prevent crime.
The suggestion for the force to “accept locks and other different styles among police officers” was among the wide-ranging ideas put forward by those interviewed in the survey.
But rebuffing the proposal, Griffith said while he had no issues with different hairstyles, the RBPF had to operate as a disciplined organization.
“If there’s a Ras Iley who comes to join the force tomorrow with his locks sweeping the ground, should we have him in the organization? . . .
“The difficulty with entertaining some of these exotic hairstyles is that it is taken too far, way too far. If you allow the style, then it means that you have to accommodate the fact that they’re not going to wear the headdress. And we’ve had some difficulties with that already, people not wanting to wear their headdress,” the police chief insisted.
Meantime, Thompson said the recommendation should not sway lawmen.
”Our members [should] not be caught up in the views of the public to the point where they want to conform to the public’s views . . . You must stand up to the principles and ideals of the force,” he said during the question and answer segment of the survey launch.
Another recommendation was for the police uniform to be changed to better suit the Caribbean climate, and for lawmen to begin wearing shoes that are more suitable for pursuing suspects.
While he was clear in his opposition to any move to change the uniform, citing the history involved, Commissioner Griffith disclosed that consideration was being given to having a different uniform for police officers who work on beaches.
“We recognize that working on the beach [requires] a much more flexible type of uniform. So that’s on the cards,” he said.
Among the findings of the survey, the police were rated highest on professional appearance with some 82 per cent of those interviewed describing it as good.
The Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit, in its report, found that 61 per cent of the 1781 adults interviewed over a three-week period in 2013 said they had a high level of respect for the RBPF.
However, many of the interviewees complained about poor customer service, trustworthiness, aggressiveness and the force used by members of the Special Services Unit and Criminal Investigations Department in carrying out investigations and conducting search warrants.
Senior research officer in the unit, Kim Ramsay who presented the findings during a ceremony at the District “A” Police Station, cautioned that a police force that has high levels of complaints about its members runs the risk of losing the respect of the public.
“The public believes that the police use excessive force in extracting confessions and also targeted certain sections of the community when conducting warrants. The long awaited video recordings of interviews need to be implemented as a matter of urgency.
“Police working conditions also need to be improved. Government may consider loans or funding from international organizations to assist in the rehabilitation of police stations. There’s also the need for an increase in vehicles,” she said.
Ramsay also recommended an independent body to investigate complaints about policemen, similar to an internal affairs department.
“There needs to be a revision of the qualifications and remuneration to join the RBPF. Recruitment to the RBPF should be more attractive and there should be more consideration of perks and increase in pay for policemen to join. The RBPF should also consider recruitment of persons who are not policemen to work in specialized areas,” the unit spokesperson said.In addition, she noted there were complaints about political interference in the running of the force.
Speaking directly following the presentation of the force, Commissioner Griffith sought to boost the morale of the force, saying the report generally painted a picture of “a job well done.”
“We should be proud of our performance as an organization. Our job is often very confrontational and so I believe that that in itself would result in a not as favourable rating as in other professions. But, generally speaking, you have to say that the results speak well of the Royal Barbados Police Force and probably stands out as the most outstanding force in the region. So, we should take some kudos for that,” he said to loud applause from the lawmen present.
“I am sure that when we further analyze the contents of this survey and go back to the drawing board the force would be even better off as an organization. We are already aware there is quite a bit of room for improvement and so, the next time around.”