Militating Against Crime In Austere Times
Submitted by Posh
I read in the Barbados Today publication about the meeting held between the Force and persons who have a vested interest in the St. Lawrence area. I particularly noted that it was stated by Inspector Streeks that the mobile unit is sometimes only staffed once a week due to resources. For those who don’t know resources really means man/woman power. (Not trying to patronize anyone).
There are one perhaps two issues I’d like to identify and perhaps offer my own opinion as to what might assist this situation. Firstly, the man power situation within the RBPF is not going to improve any time soon and in fact is only going to become worse. With the end to overtime and extra duty, all short falls in man power which would previously have been reinforced by extra/overtime is now no longer an option.
Then you have the ugly side effect of morale, no extra duty means low morale for any police force and while it is unfortunate it is unavoidable. So this tourist season we should all be prepared for less patrols, less visibility and less presence. What might happen is that some areas might be left vulnerable while others are bolstered.
As for the issues in the Gap, this issues cannot be solved by the territorial patrols, the police who respond to calls for service, accidents and other reports. Passing through or visiting an area isn’t going to help if all they do is roll by. They have a name for those police in North America, the street calls them rollers. They just roll on through, take no action on anything. What harassment, minor drug dealing, and other street crimes need are dedicated street crime squads and vice. The deviants are not stupid. A police squad can descend on them all day and they will never find the drugs on them. That’s where vice comes in.
Undercover work is a necessary component to street crime. The buy/bust. Police in plain clothes walks along, drugs are offered, retrieved from hiding place, bust takes place. This ideally should have a two fold effect, 1) remove the particular person busted for some time 2) give the would be deviants something else to think about. Some might say that the Task Force is the street crime unit. But they really are not, they are a special unit dealing with special weapons and tactics. You don’t see SWAT teams busting small time street dealers. It is overkill.
One other issue I believe that needs to be addressed is the numbers of the Force. As a population grows, as culture changes, as deviance becomes more prevalent as new crime trends emerge, the powers must evaluate the effectiveness of the Force. Ineffectiveness is not always a symptom of incompetence. Ineffectiveness could stem from any number of reasons. But for sure, lack of resources is one good reason.
In the 1990’s the 80’s the Force of this size might have been enough to effectively police this country. But how many more deviant, lawless and criminal minded people per 1000 of the population do we have? We know how many people are caught committing crime but what about the ones never caught?
We can never have a true total of how many people out there are willing to commit crime or planning to do so. What we can admit is that our society is far more deviant on more levels than previously. Has the Force’s resources increased proportionately to this?
The current establishment according to public documents is near or about 1498. We know the Force has significant vacancies around 70. Then there are a number of officers on suspension, a number of officers on protracted sick leave, a number of officers seconded. A number might be on maternity leave and another number might be on light-duty (unable to perform street duties). Then another number works in offices. Then some work in the courts. Some are on vacation each month, really you have 1400+ persons who need vacation each year in only 12 months a year. Then you have others on ordinary sick leave. What really can be left?
Let’s add with speculation being conservative:
Sick leave Protracted = 20
Light- duty = 30
Sick average per day = 75
Training = 20
Office/admin/clerical duty = 80
Maternity leave = 5
Secondment = 5
Suspended = 15
That’s 250 conservative number.
I know everyone will say that can’t hire anymore because of the economy. Well fine, we can let it all go to the dogs and never fix anything anymore because we’re broke, and all long term projections suggest we will be break for a very long time.
I wonder if the Prime Minister will get on a platform and say look at Greece and look at Spain, we’re doing better than them. What other moniker will he compare us to to say we are doing fine.
I digress: every day we hear stories of no people, no cars, no this. So in the end, the summary really is, the Gap needs to get in line as far as being given adequate police resources, and such resources will have to be shuffled on a reactive basis. Because if you cannot justify keeping a police presence somewhere which has low reported crime (although it is as a direct result of that presence) it is not going to remain there for long.
The only way in the end to manage such a huge task with the available resources is reactive. When there are enough resources to be pro-active, that story could change. Proactive is ideal but resource intensive.
Maybe they could let the army take over Government Guard and free the 20 or so officers there. Perhaps they could let island constables take over the point duties at the residences of the ‘important people’ who have personal police protection.
In the end it’s only the average middle class/lower class person affected by crime anyhow, so they really don’t have to do anything, because really they don’t care.