Will calling in the BDF really solve worrying crime?

Crime is an exceptionally emotive issue.  The pain, the grief, the torture the victims of crime must go through, the emptiness that envelopes them is unimaginable.

As much as we may wish to believe it, none of us can truly fathom what the mother of 20-year-old Taried Junior Rock of 3rd Avenue Chapman Lane, St Michael is going through after his young life was cut short by the bullets from the gun of a freewheeling gunman who opened fire on revellers at Grand Kadooment.

None of us can really understand how the family of Colleen Beresdean Payne of Lodge Hill, St Michael – whose only “sin” was to use an automated banking machine at night, as she was entitled to, only to be cut down by a pack of teenage ghouls who felt they were entitled to the fruits of her labour – are coping with their loss.

We can only imagine how haunted the family of 48-year-old Kenrick Adolphus Spooner of Pool Land, St John must feel. Spooner was butchered while on his way home for lunch, having put in his fair share of hard work at his place of employment.

No, we cannot walk in their shoes, we cannot feel what they feel, we can never understand the emotional rollercoaster they go through. Unless, of course, we experience what they have experienced.

Many of us, too, will never truly appreciate the dread that the people of Gall Hill, Cane Vale, Wotton, Deacons, and all the other so-called hotspots feel to be forever under siege.

However, with each shooting, each gun crime, each brazen daylight execution-style killing, every one of us feels vulnerable, and worried, and afraid. Each one of us feels that pang of emotion.

The fact is, we can never truly take emotion out of crime, even when we consider ways to fight the scourge.

Therefore, the response to criminal attorney and senior counsel Andrew Pilgrim’s criticism of Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite’s latest crime plan is understandable.

Brathwaite told the 38th anniversary parade of the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) at St Ann’s Fort last weekend that Government would bring soldiers into the fight against the growing incidence of gun crimes.

Pilgrim’s take on it is that it is a knee-jerk reaction and only the declaration of martial law will justify having the army involved in such a manner, and that the BDF’s involvement in crime fighting will not fix the root cause of violent crime.

“If we punish or arrest more people, if we react by violent, aggressive ways, is that going to cure, or is that going to send it underground for a little while only to come back stronger?” he questioned.

“I really want to find out what is Government doing to point young men in the direction of things that are positive.”

Interestingly, a similar view was expressed today by a magistrate, who told Barbados TODAY the proposal to call in the BDF to join the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) in the fight against crime would not arrest the situation because that was like “meeting fire with fire,” while there continues to be a breakdown in the social fabric.

“If you go out there you will alienate a group of people. There is always some glamour in rebelling, so when you get police and soldiers, you are going to get militant youths. There is always some glamour in rebelling against establishment, you are only going to glorify some of those people who are already the leaders,” he explained.

Other Caribbean countries experiencing uncontrollable crime have called in the armed forces to assist.

The prime minister of St Kitts and Nevis Dr Timothy Harris announced last month that the St Kitts Nevis Defence Force had been granted enhanced powers for the next six months to help tackle crime.

In November 2015, the Jamaica government announced that it had employed the use of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) to assist the Jamaica Constabulary Force with its crime-fighting efforts.

Therefore, those who applauded Brathwaite after the announcement – many of whom had up until this point compared him to the Shakespeare character Falstaff, but without the humour – can point to precedence.

However, employing the army to do civilian duties for which they are not trained come with risk that, in the longer term, can outweigh the benefits.

And, before Mr. Brathwaite calls out the force, a number of questions must be answered, such as, what will be the BDF’s function? Will the soldiers have the powers of arrest? Who will be in charge? To whom will the soldiers answer when they are out with the police? What are their limits? Will they be simply adding to the numbers to help the RBPF continue to do what it has been doing? Will their presence be nothing more than cosmetic?

As a normally peaceful country, we are fed up with the rising crime, and we worry about our safety, and Mr Brathwaite has the responsibility to keep us safe. We applaud any workable initiatives that keep the guns off the streets and the criminals in check.

However, Mr Brathwaite and his Government must introduce a plan that has teeth. The resources must be found to give the RBPF the manpower, training, and equipment it needs to function effectively.

There must be tough laws, backed up by enforcement. And the talk must end about fixing the judiciary.

The authorities must concentrate more on crime prevention, even while pursuing crime fighting.

Crime fighting is reactive, crime prevention is proactive and progressive.  Crime fighting is necessary, crime prevention is obligatory.

We are a lot better off if we stop the crime before it happens, than to expend energy trying to catch the killers of our children, our parents, our relatives, our friends.

We need a clear, coherent policy on crime, backed up by strong, emphatic, workable action. Off the cuff, spur of the moment, knee-jerk reactions no longer suffice.

6 Responses to Will calling in the BDF really solve worrying crime?

  1. John Everatt August 26, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Of all the above suggestions the most important by far is fixing the judicial system. We have heard talk on this for years from politicians, judges, lawyers and journalists however, sadly, nothing has been done. The system continues to use outdated methods and change just never comes. Meanwhile there are people on remand for up to 10 years waiting on a trial. The police can not seem to get their act together and the DPP just delays things more. There is also the influence of people with money on the justice system. But I do not hold out much hope that things will change anytime soon.

  2. Watchman August 26, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    Crime prevention comes from parents not government and the AG. Let the RBPF and BDF use their M16s to clean up behind the parents that dropped the ball. If such youth die, then there is no harm that comes from it, not as is they were going to be useful tax payers and consumers.

  3. Lori August 26, 2017 at 9:22 pm

    Yes because the guys seem to fear soldiers but they have no respect for the police

  4. Belfast August 26, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    And from personal experience, that fear/ respect of soldiers will very soon wear off.

  5. Alex Alleyne August 27, 2017 at 8:43 am

    You think differently when you see a person in uniform with a GUN. Calling in the BDF is a start in the “right direction”.
    Let us get those trigger happy thugs off the streets of BIM…….”dead or alive”.

  6. Donild Trimp August 27, 2017 at 10:15 am

    “Will calling in the BDF really solve worrying crime”?

    The answer is a resounding unequivocal YES.

    No further comment is needed.


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