The highly publicized and recent incidents of the RBPF officers being searched at CWC warm-up game followed by the refusal of a gated community to allow free passage to respond to a call arising from a reported domestic dispute has evoked a public response which has provided some comfort to Barbadians that the RBPF has the full support of the Barbadian public. On the flip side the comments in the media and on the streets of Barbados clearly suggest that the public is deeply hurt at the type of decision making which some elements in the force appear to be making. Some say that there will always be bad apples in the barrel and the RBPF cannot be held accountable as a collective, others have joined in asking for the resignation of the top cop Darwin Dottin. We must all be mindful that the rank and file of the RBPF will mirror society and bad apples no doubt exist in its ranks. We must also remember that like any organization there will be some officers who need training but more importantly this writer has serious concerns about the quality of human resource which the RBPF has been forced to recruit because of poor salaries and working conditions. If this situation is not arrested soon Barbadians may have a legitimate right to fear the social fall-out which will inevitable occur. Both parties but more so the government will have to stop the lip service and seek to implement short and long term strategies to address the cracks which are appearing in the blue wall.
In a dramatic turn of events the Nation of 08 April 2007 has reported that the RBPF is taking the CWC2007 to court “over the controversial searching of officers at the March 5 warm-up match at the 3Ws Oval”. This is clearly a move by the RBPF to salvage and retrieve sagging public opinion. Although we must congratulate the RBPF for finally responding in some fashion we are of the view that it may be too much too late and the action will be seen for what it is, a PR job. What the RBPF needs to do is to close ranks and agree to a posture which they would want to project when interacting with the public on all matters. Each police officer should then be held accountable by the top cop to ensure that there is uniformity in how the RBPF actions are carried-out. This is where Commissioner Darwin Dottin has failed to date. Perhaps he deserves one last chance to get it right.
We view the current situation as very serious and the RBPF needs to demonstrate to the public very quickly that the recent blunders by some of their officers were not derived from any lack of pride in policing but had to do with mundane reasons like lack of training or breakdown in communication. The success of Barbados many may agree can be directly attributed to not only a stable political environment but equally as important a strong police force which has over the years maintained law and order.
Published on: 4/8/07.
by TIM SLINGER
THE POLICE are taking Cricket World Cup (CWC) officials to court over the controversial searching of officers at the March 5 warm-up match at the 3Ws Oval.
That decision was taken yesterday during an emergency meeting of the Police Association at Police Band headquarters at District “A” Police Station.
The action by private security guards at the University of the West Indies’ Cave Hill Campus ground led to widespread public condemnation.
“Some officers have informed us they feel deeply hurt by what occurred; but more importantly, they feel there are several issues arising out of the incident which need to be addressed, including issues regarding the role, powers and functions of the police as well as the sovereignty not only of the Police Force but of the nation as a whole,” the association’s attorney Amiri Dear, of Thompson and Associates, told the SUNDAY SUN after the extraordinary meeting.
“And as such we will be taking the appropriate steps to have these issues fully ventiliated,” she said.
In another development, police officers were also threatening to withdraw their services for Wednesday’s first official CWC match at Kensington Oval over a major contractual dispute.
The move follows a directive from the association to its members not to sign an accreditation contract from the International Cricket Council (ICC) and CWC.
The association, which represents more than 1 200 members of the 1 500-strong Royal Barbados Police Force, contends that a clause which absolves the ICC and CWC of responsibility for any injury or loss to a police officer at CWC events was in conflict with a police agreement sent to the organisers.
However, World Cup Barbados CEO Stephen Alleyne clarified that it was the Local Organising Committee (LOC), not the International Cricket Council (ICC) or CWC, which was responsible for the safety of security forces for the CWC.
He said the contract, which the Police Force will have with the LOC, includes provisions for their safety.
“The police have a relatively standard contract and in that contract there is a clear requirement that there be adequate protection for police officers in terms of injury or any attacks, and we are in the process of negotiating that contract.
“I can confirm for you with absolute certainty that it contains a clause that is acceptable to the Royal Barbados Police Force,” he said.
However, a source close to the Police Association said they were not briefed on this new contract, which they said must first be ratified by the body. The source explained that up to Thursday some officers had already signed the ICC/CWC contract, and that was one of the reasons for yesterday’s emergency meeting.
The offending ICC/CWC accreditation clause reads: “I understand that my entry to the ICC/CWC 2007 venues is at my own risk, and that neither the tournament organisers nor Rushmans (accreditation body) shall be liable for any personal injury or accident or loss, theft or damage to property.”
However, Clause 7 of the police contract says: “The promoter agrees and covenants with the security provider as follows: To compensate the security provider or his servants or workmen for any loss or damage or injury sustained in the lawful execution of their duty at the said event to a limit of one hundred thousand dollars.”
When contacted, Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin would only confirm the controversial issue was drawn to his attention.