Tag Archives: Royal Barbados Police Force

All Sugar Hill Resort staff to be fingerprinted by police. No refusals allowed.

Barbados Police Fingerprints click image for police letter demanding staff fingerprints

Dear Barbados Free Press:

The police are requesting that all staff and contractors at Sugar Hill voluntarily submit for fingerprinting in relation to some break-ins at the resort. Is this legal? Will they also be fingerprinting guests who stayed at the resort? What about friends of owners? People eating at the restaurant during that time?  What will happen to the fingerprints?

This seems wrong and a bit racist. While it appears voluntary, there seems that there might be consequences if you refuse.

Has this fingerprinting been done before at other crime scenes? If something was stolen at a school will the police now be fingerprinting all students and all teachers? If something was stolen at Parliament, will Miss Mottley and Mr. Stuart “be first in line” like Sugar Hill Resort’s operations manager volunteers? Where is this going? Is this the new normal for the Barbados Police?

Concerned

The email from Sugar Hill Resort management…

From: sugarhill
Date: 6 March 2013
To:
Subject: RBPF Finger Printing Staff at Sugar Hill

Dear All,

As you are aware our file was passed to the Major Crimes Department in the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF). They have requested that all Staff with access to the Estate be finger printed as they are in possession of some forensic evidence, finger prints, from properties that suffered burglaries. See attached their letter of request. Continue reading

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Barbados Detective Constable on Owen Arthur: “Give the man 2 bottles of Mount Gay and tell him go home and don’t come back.”

Barbados Police Politics 2

Should police officers openly discuss politics?

by WSD

We have many sayings in Barbados and two of my favourites are mostly true: “Everything is political” and “Nothing is secret for long”.

Everything can’t help being political in a smaller society where everyone knows everyone else and knows everyone else’s business. You can sneak around on Bim with somebody’s husband or wife but sooner or later it will out. Sneaking around always does out in Bim.

No secrets when it come to politics either! Bees against Dems on election day and after election day too. In the public service when a supervisor position opens up, LOOK OUT! Watch the Bees and the Dems line up to support their brothers and sisters.

Our last Chief Justice – just the highest judge in the country that’s all – was a former BLP politician, attorney general and acting Prime Minister. Did something ever get judged one way and not some other way because the judge was a BLP and the accused was a BLP member too? That was always in the back of people’s minds and it shouldn’t have been. Whether David Simmons was a good Chief Justice or not doesn’t matter if it looked bad that he was a politician in charge of the courts.

When there is a possible conflict of interest based on family or friendships or business relationships it damages the people’s faith in the institutions. A big criticism of Chief Justice Simmons accepting the position was that it looked bad, and caused people to be suspicious that the highest judge might have conflicts of interest based on his politics.

So it can be with other government professions too, and that includes police officers.

“This tell me something about Owen Arthur, he pushed out Mia because he wanted to be prime minister if they won the elections, now they lost he put he back in, give the man 2 bottles of Mount Gay and tell him go home and don’t come back. My respect to Mia for taking things so cool.”

Posted on the BLP Facebook page by a Detective Constable of the Royal Barbados Police Force

Is it proper if a police officer discusses politics on the internet while identifying themselves as a police officer?      Continue reading

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A reasoned view of the Royal Barbados Police Force

barbados-police.jpg

If the current staff could be like the police officers I once knew

by Mark Fenty

We obviously cannot invalidate the important job the Royal Barbados Police Force is doing in Barbados, but we are certainly troubled by the many instances of misconduct surrounding this institution. Some people fail to realize that the Royal Barbados Police Force is much like any other organization in Barbados, and is therefore subject to some of the same faults and failings as all. And like any other organization there are good and bad apples within.

So with this thought in mind, we therefore cannot unilaterally or arbitrarily besmear the efforts of the majority for the wrong doings of a few bad apples in the Force. It is important however that we are impartial in our judgment of the Royal Barbados Police Force, and assign blame where it is needed. I think we all can agree that the job of a peace officer is quite difficult at times.

And to be quite frank, there are often calls for some officers to do things that aren’t conductive to proper policing. Nevertheless, too often some of us take for granted the effort it take on the part of these peace officers to maintain the public peace.

In any event, some of these peace officers are men of integrity whose objective it is to ensure the public order. Others are rotten apples who see an opportunity to use their position of power to take advantage of the marginalized elements in our society. I knew both elements quite well, because I was born and bred just behind a major police station in Barbados. I saw both sides of the coin but for the most part, most of the men and women I once knew were good nature people who would go out of their way to give you their shirt of their back. That’s the kind of men and women I once knew, and that’s the kind of men and women who once constituted the Royal Barbados Police Force in my day. I would like to give a shout out to Commission Alvin Griffith if he is still living, a man of honest purpose and simple integrity, cloth with the rare qualities of dignity, decency and decorum.

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Commissioner Dottin says accused rapist Derick Crawford confessed to particular knowledge of crimes

UPDATED: January 1, 2013 – Victims angry with Commissioner Dottin!

“Dr Rachel Turner and Diane Davies are hopping mad because of comments made by Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin during a Press conference last week.

The top cop had indicated that both women were uncooperative during the investigation of their rape, at the same spot two days apart, and that the Police Force had done its job properly in arresting Derick Crawford.”

The Nation: Reopen the Case! Find the man who raped us!

But can we trust a confession collected by the police without video?

For years judges and commissions have recommended that the Royal Barbados Police Force video confessions to crimes to remove the doubts.

Why should there be doubts? Aren’t all our police officers perfectly proper and honest when it comes to confessions?

Bajans know that many young men have died or been seriously injured in police custody where it is said that the police were trying to obtain confessions. Our officers have been known to shoot unarmed bicyclists in the head when they didn’t stop for police for a “routine checkstop” and were riding away. Young men have been known to jump off a cliff 50 feet into the sea and die rather than face questioning by our police. Or maybe they didn’t jump.

Can you blame Bajans for having doubts about the confession of Derick Crawford? Did the police provide him with the “particular details” of the crime that appeared in his confession?

“We know what goes on ’bout hey, and that’s why we have doubts.”

Commissioner Dottin: we wouldn’t be having this conversation and public embarrassment if you had of ordered that confessions be videoed as you said you were going to do years ago.

Video courtesy of The Bajan Reporter

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Barbados Police need to watch CSI crime shows!

dottin-police-concerns

“DNA evidence? Hair and semen samples? What’s that?” says the Commissioner of our Police

submitted by Johnny Up

In the wake of yet another world-wide embarrassment for the Royal Barbados Police Farce, Commissioner Darwin Dottin is desperately performing damage control. Again.

Dottin is becoming pretty adept at damage control: too bad he can’t devote the same amount of energy to managing major crimes – then he wouldn’t always be in this position.

This time it’s about Derick David Rudolph Crawford who languished in jail for two rapes he did not commit, or so say the two victims. Next time it will be about some other person who our police beat a confession out of or planted evidence on. It is a wonder the police bothered arresting Mr. Crawford at all but they needed a warm body to show the tourists. Crawford should consider himself lucky in some ways and don’t we all know it!

Video-taped confessions? What’s it take: a computer and an internet camera. Maybe a good old fashioned 8mm or VHS video camera, a $30 karaoke microphone on the never-never. Barbados police been talking ’bout video taping confessions for years. We’ve had studies, mentions in Parliament, statements from the COP and talk talk talk talk but never do. Why not? Police don’t want to, that’s why. Enough of the police force believe in the old way that if you beat a confession out of a man it’s still good because no man would confess to something he didn’t do. Some still believe that and they are ‘fast wit their fists and slow of their wits.’ That’s what they call them: fast fists, slow wits.

Dottin? He just need to go.

Fast.

Further Reading

Please visit The Nation to read the full article Case Study

Case Study

BY DAWNE PARRIS | TUE, DECEMBER 18, 2012 – 12:11 AM

COMMISSIONER OF POLICE Darwin Dottin will today begin a series of meetings with officials within and outside the Police Force before speaking publicly on the dismissal of two rape cases against a man whose British “victims” had insisted on his innocence. Continue reading

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Deputy Commissioner of Police Bertie Hinds retires. Leaves a legacy of conflict and chaos.

Submitted by Turtle Soup in response to Stephen Alleyne’s Under Scrutiny: Ciao, Bertie!

When his junior, Darwin Dottin, was promoted to Commissioner of Police, Bertie Hinds had to make a decision to do his best to support Dottin’s leadership and direction, or if he could not support the new Commissioner, to do the honourable thing and leave the Royal Barbados Police Force. Hinds had several good offers at the time in both government service and private industry and could have exited the police with best wishes from all in the larger community and a ‘well done, good and faithful servant’ from the vast majority of police personnel. He undoubtedly would have been successful in any new position where he was in ultimate charge because the man has vision and is a capable leader and policing professional.

“Stay and work to support the new police leadership, or leave – those were the two honourable choices. But Hinds chose a third option…”

Instead of going quietly or accepting his lot and doing his utmost to support the new Commissioner and his beloved Royal Barbados Police Force to the best of his ability, Bertie Hinds decided to stay and fight the new Commissioner of Police at every step – which he did most strongly for nine full years. As the clashes with Dottin became more serious, more frequent and increasingly public, the senior management of the RBPF became ineffective and split with various senior officers choosing sides. There were battles in court, and dirty tricks by Dottin and Hinds supporters. The focus of senior management (and increasingly by junior personnel also) shifted from serving the community to internal politics and conflict.

All of this was because Mr. Hinds could not discipline himself to say “Yes, Sir.” to the man whom Barbados chose over him to be the leader of the Royal Barbados Police Force. Some observers believe that Hinds thought he could someday be Commissioner of Police if he undermined Dottin sufficiently, and indeed during the battles there were calls from Hinds supporters to fire Dottin and promote Hinds.

Could Hinds have made a better Commissioner of Police than Dottin?

Possibly, even probably – but so what?

Dottin’s promotion and appointment was legal and it was the decision of those who were lawfully charged with making that decision. For whatever reason Hinds was not chosen and Dottin was.

Whatever Darwin Dottin’s professional and personal failings, he deserved better from Bertie Hinds than he got right from the start. As Commissioner of Police, Darwin Dottin deserved respect, support and most of all loyalty from his senior officers because anything else in a military organisation is destructive and undermines the public confidence in the institution.

Bertie Hinds has left the Royal Barbados Police Force, but the organisation and the community at large will be many years recovering from the decade of conflict and chaos in the senior leadership that Hinds could have stopped at any time by submitting his resignation or saying “Yes, Sir.”

Further Reading

Readers are encouraged to visit the Barbados Advocate to read Stephen Alleyne’s Ciao, Bertie! but unfortunately BFP must reprint the entire piece here because the Barbados Advocate has in the past deleted news stories to suit political agendas. As our post is based upon Alleyne’s article, we must preserve a copy… Continue reading

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What “special circumstances” make it okay to bite a police officer?

Barbados news media cooperates in the cover-up

by Holetown Brawler

The Court of Appeal is trying to suck and blow at the same time and with the help of the Barbados news media all they have done so far is to confuse the public, the police and the criminals.

Damien Omar Cummins bit a police officer and ripped off his shirt. For that he was sentenced to nine months in jail. Bite a police officer, go straight to jail. Fine. Everybody knows dats da rules!

But then the Court of Appeal quashed Cummins’ jail sentence – and then tried to say that wounding a police officer is serious business and people who do that can “generally” expect to go to jail.

“We consider a non-custodial sentence appropriate in the special circumstances of the case based on the information disclosed to this Court on the offences and the offender.” said the Court of Appeal.

That’s not good enough. Not by half.

Bajans deserve the truth, all the truth and nothing but the truth. It is not enough for the Court of Appeal or the news media to gloss over this story.

It’s not good enough for the public – who rightfully wonder what happened. It’s not good enough for the police officers – who rightfully wonder what made the court decide that this wounding of a police officer was ‘okay’. It’s not good enough for the criminals who are wondering if the rules have changed and the Barbados courts have gone soft on harming a police officer.

Is this a cover-up of bad police behaviour? Is it a cover-up of mistakes made by the DPP? WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO MAKE IT “SPECIAL”?

The public, the police and the thugs on the block may agree that the Court of Appeal’s position is proper justice: but they can’t be kept in the dark by the court and the news media who say “Trust us.”

That “Trust us” business doesn’t fly anymore.

Bajans want to know, and deserve to know: What were the “special circumstances” that made it okay for Damien Omar Cummins to bite a police officer and not go to jail?

Further Reading

BFP, May 19, 2012: Barbados Appeal Court: No jail time for wounding a police officer

Hands Off!

The Nation

PEOPLE who inflict physical violence on police officers, public officials and other people in authority during the execution of their duties can “generally” expect a custodial sentence from the court.

This warning was recently issued by the Court of Appeal while handing down a decision on an appeal by a 27-year-old man against the nine months’ prison sentence he received for biting a police officer. Continue reading

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Barbados Police Officer wanted for rape fled island

Missing police officer not on Barbados Most Wanted List

No International Alert issued! Why not?

by WSD

While researching the death of Curtis Callender last week in custody of the Barbados Police, I came across a column in Sunday’s Jamaica Observer reporting that a third police officer fled Barbados in the “Immigration Rape” case that saw two Barbados Police officers charged earlier this year.

The “Immigration Rape” case is unusual because one of the police officers is a female who is alleged to have assisted in the rape. According to the Nation News at the time, Jonathon Birchmore Richard Barrow, 32, of Pasture Road, Haggatt Hall, St Michael, and Melanie Shantelle Lakeisha Denny, 25, of Golden Mile, St Peter, are the two police officers charged. (photos above)

Somehow at the time I missed the news that a third police officer fled Barbados. I couldn’t find anything about the third police officer in the Barbados news media from the time, and I don’t see any police officers on the Barbados “Most Wanted” list. A friend of a friend says the Barbados police didn’t put out an arrest warrant for the missing police officer. I don’t know if that is true or not, but I can’t find anything about the officer.

Why isn’t the missing Barbados Police Officer on the ‘Most Wanted’ list?

Why isn’t there an international alert? Could it be that the Barbados Police don’t want to arrest their fellow officer? Who is he?

How about it, BFP readers… Did you hear about the third officer leaving the island? Does anyone know his name? Why is the man not on the Most Wanted list?

Here is the passage in the Jamaica Observer that alerted me to the missing Barbados police officer who fled the country…

The media also highlighted the case of Shanique Myrie, who was indecently violated in Barbados and another Jamaican woman, who although nabbed with contraband at the Grantley Adams Airport, was allegedly raped and sexually violated while incarcerated in that country.

These stories threw the spotlight on the way Jamaicans and other Caribbean nationals are treated in that sister Caricom country and have forced the Barbadian authorities to act while the world has taken notice of the violations.

In the case of the alleged rape, two Barbadian police officers were arrested and charged and a third has fled that island.

From Observer Online News Editor Karyl Walker’s presentation to this year’s National Journalism Awards ceremony in Kingston, Jamaica

Photo of Barbados Police courtesy of The Nation / Heather-Lynn Evanson

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Elizabeth Drive, Pine Gardens Crime Alert: Is Erdiston College doing their part?

Barbados Police working hard. Police Inspector Griffith came to the call while off-duty.

With the dramatic and recent increase in crime many folks around the island are banding together and doing what they can to look out for each other and their neighbouring properties. BFP receives quite a few email crime alerts and we’re very interested in following the trends. While we don’t usually publish the individual alerts because they concern localized happenings, this one is noteworthy because it is obvious the police are working hard and keenly interested in a pair of thugs spotted around Elizabeth Drive.

A big thank you to Inspector Griffith who attended a call while off-duty. We at BFP have long been critical of certain aspects of our police force and senior management, but we’ve also said from day one that successive governments have criminally under-funded the police to the point where the organisation is ineffective.

Give praise where praise is due though: Thanks to Inspector Griffith and the other officers who responded to the calls, and are doing their best to find these two dangerous thugs.

Erdiston College not doing what they should?

There is also a reference in the email that Erdiston College is contributing to the problem because they no longer shut their pedestrian back-gate at sunset. Well Erdiston College? Any truth to that?

Here’s the email crime alert from the Elizabeth Drive Pine Gardens Resident Association…

Dear Elizabeth Drive Residents

Please see the below email from our fellow neighbour. Am trying to obtain more information as to the descriptions of these individuals. Please continue to share any pertinent information and to be vigilant.

Many thanks,

Caroline Steinbok, Neighbourhood Liaison – Elizabeth Drive Pine Gardens Resident Association

The Original email

Don’t know if you heard but we’ve had another incident today adding to the ongoing saga of criminals in the area. This info needs to go to all Pine Gardens residents as it is not restricted to Elizabeth Dr.

Here is a brief rundown of what I know so far. I don’t  know if anyone can add to it.

1-There was the robbery of the construction worker in Elizabeth Dr at around 9.am by two men. I am told that after the event, the men ran off North up Eliz. Dr.

2- On the day following or the next day two men were observed from Eliz. Dr. in a tree in the back of the Leacock property looking into the two properties at the northern end of Eliz. Dr. They ran off when the realized that they had been seen.

3- On the following day Thursday (< >10.am) they were again seen, from a distance of about 5 ft, in the Leacock property holding on to the fence of the Atkinson property and looking into the Preece property…one was wearing a mask.

The police were called and they came promptly. Continue reading

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Barbados Police again fail to answer “gun robbery in progress” call: Email from reader

“Incidents of Barbados Police being a bit shy or late to respond to gun calls are also becoming more common.”

Another case of unanswered 211 Police Emergency call!

Police didn’t show up until the next morning for “Robbery with Gun” call

Several folks sent us this story that is circulating on the internet via email and Facebook. WE CAUTION readers to take this story with a grain of salt until we receive some independent confirmation, but stories of Emergency 211 calls not being answered are becoming a weekly event. Incidents of Barbados Police being a bit shy or late to respond to gun calls are also becoming more common. Commissioner Dottin remains silent about this life-critical failing. We’ve written about that here and here but that’s only a small sample of what people are hearing and talking about.

Commissioner Dottin: Why isn’t the 211 Police Emergency number being answered?

Here is the current email with the names, email addresses and other details of the victim removed. The full version circulating has many personal details that we’re not about to publish here…

Last night around 12:30am former Fort George resident “H” was robbed at gunpoint outside his current residence at Rendezvous Ridge where he resides with his mum and grandmother. I spoke with “J” this morning and she advised that “H” parked on the curb outside the house (being the last in and the yard was full) and immediately as he opened the car door a gun was placed on his cheek and he was ordered out of the car. He was ordered to hand over his wallet, cell phone and jewelry and then the two assailants got into a green sedan parked nearby and drove away. A combination of youth and _ _ _ _ _ then ensured that he started his own car and gave chase and followed the car into Sergeants Village where the car was parked. At that point “H” drove to the nearest pay phone and dialed 211 and got no answer so he was forced to leave and head home to use the home phone and call other police numbers. The police arrived this morning to investigate and were taken to where the green car was last seen (of course it was gone) and take statements etc. “H” confirmed that the man who did the talking did NOT have a foreign accent.

This incident follows another one at the same residence last Saturday night where a man was spotted on the pool deck of the said residence and was chased by “H” and his sister’s boyfriend up the road. During the chase they failed to flag down a passing police car and again on that occasion 211 also failed to provide an answer.

Here’s another story of unanswered 211 Emergency Calls from The Barbados Advocate. You should read it at the Advocate’s website, but as usual we have to reprint the whole story here because that newspaper regularly changes or deletes stories for political and other agendas… Continue reading

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Barbados Bar Association President: Police beat confessions from suspects

Will Commissioner Dottin dare to say it isn’t so?

The allegation by Bar Association President Andrew Pilgrim that some Barbados police officers beat confessions from suspects is no surprise in that folks know how things are done ’bout hey when it comes to confessions. What is surprising is that Mr. Pilgrim has thrown down the gauntlet publicly and announced what everyone knows.

The judges must know what is going on – that suspects in detention always seem to “confess” when certain police officers are doing the “interviewing”. It is a wonder that the Barbados judges haven’t almost refused to convict upon confessions, or at least disregarded confessions when considering their verdict. Maybe the judges rationalize that the accused is a career criminal or that the police lack the resources and skills to do a proper investigation.

Mr. Pilgrim is an outspoken lawyer who knows what he is up against, but it is refreshing to see someone with a high profile position refuse to keep silent when is comes to our third-rate police force. The Royal Barbados Police Force doesn’t have to be third-rate, but it will remain so until the politicians decide that policing and citizen safety are priorities, and back it up with the funding to hire, train and retain the quality of police officers that Barbados deserves. Continue reading

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US Tourist robbed, says Barbados police conduct “shocking”

Police demanded victim change his official statement to match another witness statement!

Why this visitor will not be returning to Barbados

by Fred Kraxberger, US Citizen

Dear Barbados Free Press,

On 02/09/2011 while fishing at Archers Bay, St. Lucy, Barbados around 7 to 7:15 PM my Bajan friend and I (a US citizen) were the victims of a robbery, and our lives threatened by a Bajan man with a machete.  He also told us he would shoot us if we did not do what he said.  We did as he said.  He got a cell phone and cash.  This is not the first time this man has robbed someone, he knew what he was doing.

When the Crab Hill Police arrived they did a short interview with us.  When I was told that I could go and retrieve our belongings, I went back to the scene of the robbery.  One officer was there when I got there.  He did not have a flashlight on.  I ask him if it was ok to pickup my things because he had not been down there that long.  He said it was ok.  I picked up my fishing light so that I could find our belongings.  I noticed something that was not there before the robbery.  I pointed it out to the officer and told him that it must have come from the robber.  He ignored me. Continue reading

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Warning, Graphic: Another untidy road death

“We are not an enforcement society”

Those words spoken by the late Prime Minister David Thompson one night on the CBC were nothing but the truth. Folks were aghast that he said the words – but at the same time seemed unconcerned about the truth of his statement. How like us that is: we’re concerned about the image, not with the reality of our society’s faults.

We are NOT an enforcement society. It shows in the trash on the streets, in the number of people and businesses that fail to pay taxes for years (sometimes decades) without penalties and when people steal millions from the public purse and never a charge is laid.

And it shows in the number of fatal accidents on our roads. Tourists from the UK have a 240% greater chance of dying in a road accident in Barbados than back at home. We lose more people to road deaths than to murder, but we don’t have effective laws against drinking and driving. Our Royal Barbados Police Force is 100 officers under strength because we pay Constables less than we pay our garbage workers.

And so another young man died on Thursday morning.

Tito Michael Anderson Bradshaw of Wilkinson Road, Richmond Gap, St. Michael, died at about 8:40am at 1st Avenue Weekes Land near Goodland, St. Michael. He lost control of his motorcycle and his head hit a pole.

A crowd gathered. His mum was brought to the scene and the poor woman lost it right there and it’s no wonder. But in a short while the body was removed and the blood and brains on the road were hosed down. After the sun dried everything up, it was like nothing had ever happened. No tourists would be alarmed. No locals would be concerned when passing by the site.

“The guy was riding a scrambler at top speed. Remember only a couple of weeks ago we were talking about these scramblers and the danger that they pose.”

BFP reader ‘What will they think of next?’

Whether it’s crime or road accidents, our police are excellent at cleaning up – just not so good at prevention. And who can blame them when the politicians stage cricket parties and celebratory evenings but won’t pass the laws that the police need to protect us all.

The photos are grim, gruesome even – but we’re going to show them here in full because they might save another young man’s life. Our thanks to BFP reader ‘What will they think of next’.

Here are the graphic photos… Continue reading

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Barbados Police Commissioner sacked over Bridgetown fire, 1948: Colonel Oriel St. Arnaud Duke


Colonel Oriel St. Arnaud Duke ‘sacked’ over support for Chief Fire Officer

Was it Fair? Was it Just?

Hello everyone.

I retired from the Dorset Police in the UK in 2006. Their website can be found at http://www.dorset.police.uk. Although this website might seem quite impressive, it should be remembered that the force has an equally impressive budget with which to invest in its website!

I am resident in the UK, although I am lucky enough to visit the beautiful island of Barbados once or twice a year.

I am and researching my family history, and in particular my Great Uncle, who was named Colonel Oriel St A Duke and who was Commissioner of Police in Barbados from about 1939 – 1947.

Are there any people still alive who remember him or who have heard stories about him?

I know that he was ‘retired’ following a major fire in Bridgetown. I have heard that the reason for his forced retirement was because he supported the Chief Fire Officer who had been subject to criticism by the Colonial Secretary. Continue reading

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Fatal Traffic Accidents: Police Inspector tells how our police are not doing their job

Police admit to not enforcing the law against trucks carrying passengers in the back

The death toll is now two from Tuesday’s head-on collision between two large trucks on St. Luke’s Road, St. George. 17-year-old *Roosi Straughn, who died at the scene, was one of seven passengers carried illegally in the open back of one of the trucks. Yesterday the driver of the that vehicle, Ervine Barker, died of his injuries at Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Roosi and Ervine. We hope they will find peace and also fondly remember the precious time they had with their loved ones. When we lose friends suddenly like this we are all reminded that a person never knows the day or the hour when they might be called home, so we should enjoy each moment and do our best in everything while we can.

With that in mind, we have to comment that our police have not been doing the best that they can to prevent accidents and save lives. The statements by Police Inspector Leon Blades in today’s Nation are proof enough of that. Continue reading

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Canadian news media reports “outrage” at tourist killer’s sentence. Schwarzfeld family says “Sentence made no sense.”

Canadians still following the Terry Schwarzfeld story

Adrian Loveridge interviewed by Ottawa Citizen

The sentencing of Curtis Joel Foster in the killing of Canadian tourist Terry Schwarzfeld and the subsequent appeal by the Barbados Director of Public Prosecutions continues to be news in Canada.

The Ottawa Citizen published a weekend article Barbados sentence ‘unduly lenient’ as did the CanWest news agency in papers across Canada. The Canadian press interviewed Schwarzfeld’s sister, Joan Schwarzfeld, and hotelier Adrian Loveridge, who chairs the safety and security committee of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association.

Former Attorney General Dale Marshall – Embarrassing

As well, the Ottawa Citizen focused upon the idiotic (our description) comments of former Attorney General Dale Marshall – who is quoted as saying that Foster’s sentencing should have no impact on tourism from Canada.

Judging by the articles in the Canadian press and the comments online from both Canadians and Bajans, Dale Marshall is totally out of touch with his constituents and the rest of the world on the danger to our tourism industry if Barbados is perceived to be uncaring or soft on violence against visitors and citizens.

Prospective tourists can get over the fact that a visitor was murdered while strolling on a beach in broad daylight – provided they believe it was an isolated incident and that Barbados citizens and our government and courts responded appropriately.

In our opinion, Canadians still believe that Barbados is one of the safest tourist destinations in the world – and rightly so, because Barbados still provides about as safe a vacation as can be had anywhere.

Where Barbados fell down in this case was in the initial response and incident handling, and also in our government’s poor treatment of the victims’ families who were ignored and kept in the dark throughout the process.

Court dates were set, decisions and deals were made and actions were taken by the DPP, the police and the government without basic courtesy or concern for informing the victims’ families. Often there was not even a phone call or an email to inform family members as to an important event as the case processed through our courts. The Schwarzfeld family told the Canadian press that they were not being informed of important developments by the Barbados authorities. Like everyone else, they mostly heard about the deals and delays through the news media or this blog.

Where did the law stop and politics begin?

The decision to not proceed on the murder charge against Foster may have been properly taken according to the best legal advice – but there is also a suspicion in Canada, Barbados and elsewhere that the government simply wanted to avoid the drawn-out publicity a lengthy murder trial. Undoubtedly the failure of our Royal Barbados Police Force to note and address Curtis Joel Foster’s long series of violent crimes against tourists at Long Beach would have been a central issue in any trial.

So the prosecution offered a deal and asked for 16 to 20 years. To the utter amazement of everyone, the judge gave 10 years – proving that Dale Marshall has at least one other neighbour on whatever different planet he lives on.

Had Foster received what Bajans and Canadians consider a reasonable sentence in all the circumstances, the government of Barbados would have happily seen this case fade from the public eye with the average tourist believing that justice was done. That is not to be though.

Two Lessons for Barbados

There are two main lessons that Barbados should take away from this unhappy event. Firstly, we failed to do our best to protect visitors and citizens against a known threat at a specific location. As we mentioned in our article Guilty plea in killing of Canadian tourist Terry Schwarzfeld raises official hopes that the story will now go away, that was basically a police leadership and competence problem that is as yet unresolved.

Secondly, we failed the family and friends of Terry Schwarzfeld and her daughter-in-law Lauana Cotsman by failing to keep them informed about court dates and decisions in the prosecution of the person who killed their loved one. Oh, our government and politicians were good for a couple of weeks after the murder, but then it all fell apart in the long run because we have no real plan or crisis handling team in place for incidents involving foreign visitors. We wing it every time with no checklist and no institutional memory of what went right or wrong last time.

This is part of a larger problem that our government shares with our news media: in a crisis we prefer cover-ups instead of acknowledging problems and implementing proper responses. We used to be able to operate like this because the government could control the flow of information both locally and abroad.

That was before YouTube and a camera in every mobile phone. That was before instant messaging, blogs, FaceBook and personal websites. That was before TripAdvisor and a host of other travel websites and forums.

We don’t seem to learn the lessons we need to. Six months after the Schwarzfeld beach murder, the British press reported British Tourist Shot, Robbed Near Sandy Lane Resort Barbados On June 4, 2009 – Victim Alleges Silence By Barbados News Media, Hotel, Tourism Authorities.

I am surprised and disappointed that as a country that relies almost exclusively upon tourism for our economy, Barbados has no crisis handling team or plan for the long term management of situations involving foreign visitors. If we did have proper management in place, members of the Schwarzfeld family would not be telling their fellow Canadians that Barbados did not care enough to keep them informed about important developments surrounding the death of their loved one.

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Barbados Prime Minister emails Canadian tourist: “(Boscobel Road Toll Gang) has been investigated… I have received no other negative reports”

“I just wrote the government (about the Boscobel Road Toll Gang) and the PM responded:

I believe that this matter has been investigated and I have certainly received no other negative reports”

Mar 09, 2010, 7:43 AM comment by Ottawa-based tourist ChrisB on Trip Advisor

“My wife and I just returned from Barbados. We were shaken down by “Sean” and his friends and paid $10 to pass…

He actually jumped in the backseat of our Moke for a few minutes, which was a bit frightening. Alas we paid and moved on.

It is indeed still a problem.”

March 10, 2010 3:42pm comment by New York-based tourist jbm4130 on Trip Advisor

"The road is closed. I need ten dollars."

Prime Minister’s statement “Has been Investigated” means “No arrests. Nothing changed”

The leading travel website Trip Advisor has several forums going on the Barbados Boscobel Road Toll Gang where tourists to Barbados from around the world relate some of their stories for others. Similar Boscobel stories are carried on other travel forums as well.

Remember folks: this isn’t Barbados Free Press breaking this story. Dozens of tourists have related their experiences at Trip Advisor and other sites over the last few years and our police have done nothing. In the new world of the internet Barbados ignores this continuing gang activity at its peril. We first reported this story in September of 2008, but the tourist reports go back more than five years.

Members of the Boscobel Road Toll Gang stop tourist hired cars by standing in front of them. They inform the drivers that the road is closed, instruct them to drive another way and demand money for the “assistance”. They are big, nasty men and most of the tourists pay. It is a lucrative business for the gang.

Always seven or eight sitting at the “T” intersection and while one engages the driver in conversation another will sometimes come up behind on the passenger side, reach through an open window to grab a purse or a camera and then run like hell.

NEW REPORT: Gang members getting bolder – Entering cars, sitting in the rear seat behind driver!

A dangerous escalation…

The Royal Barbados Police Force is well aware of this bunch of thieves, but officers have apparently done nothing except take the reports from the poor tourists who are stupid enough to stop and roll down their windows. The Commissioner doesn’t seem to care and neither do the local officers who have actually been seen on occasion to wave at the gang members as they drive by on patrol.

The locals are now getting harassed as well. This, along with the gang members climbing into vehicles for “a friendly chat” are signs of a dangerous escalation. The gang is getting bolder.

On February 19, 2010 a UK tourist with family in Barbados wrote on Trip Advisor:

“I have my suspicions why this still goes on but if Barbados wants to keep it’s tourists then they need to sort it out.”

Another tourist, this one from New York city answered:

“This is a disgrace. And it’s continuance makes the police seem complicit.”

Hey, not to worry folks. Prime Minister David Thompson says “I believe that this matter has been investigated and I have certainly received no other negative reports”

I guess the PM doesn’t read Trip Advisor like the foreign tourists do.

Further Reading at Barbados Free Press

January 8, 2010 Barbados Police Helpless as hundreds of tourists extorted every month by Boscobel road toll gang

June 17, 2009 Boscobel Road Toll Gang Still Operating Freely In Barbados

September 16, 2008 Barbados Police Helpless In Stopping Boscobel Road Toll Gang

* About the photo: We are only using it to illustrate the story and have made the photo dark, blurry and sinister as a new work of art. The person in the photo is not associated with the Boscobel Toll Gang and has never been to Barbados. He is probably a nice, honest person.

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Soon there will be no crime in Barbados – Make that no “reported” crime

Commissioner Dottin cheerful

Statistics bamboozle Commissioner Dottin… or maybe it’s the other way around

A smiling Commissioner of Police announced that the latest statistics showing a reduction in crime were “very gratifying”. But as unquestioning reporters lapped up Dottin’s every word, a different story was playing itself out just north of Grape Hall where yet another citizen decided that it just wasn’t worth his time to report a theft to the police.

One of our friends got a little lazy last week and left two lightly used truck tires on rims at the side of his home for only a few days instead of taking them to someone who had a use for them. He came home last Wednesday night to find the tires gone and he felt like slapping himself upside the head for his foolishness. You know how it is ’bout hey: you can’t leave so much as a garden hose outside overnight or it will be gone.

Why didn’t my friend report the crime to the police?

“Why bother, nothin happen” was his answer. That reasoning is more prevalent in Barbados than ever as our understrength and underpaid police force struggles with a triple onslaught of inadequate training,  ancient equipment and increased demands for service and professionalism.

My friend’s reason for not reporting the theft is that, more and more, the police simply don’t come when called in Barbados, and when they do “take a report”, that’s usually the end of police action. And that is why my friend is part of Commissioner Dottin’s hyped “2 percent drop in crime”. Victims are giving up on reporting minor crimes to the police because the victims perceive it is not worth their trouble.

So if the Commissioner says that Barbados had almost a 2 percent reduction in REPORTED crimes as fewer and fewer police officers patrol, we have to ask: If we eliminated more police officers and had fewer officers to take reports or patrol, wouldn’t that lead to even greater “reductions” in reported crime?

The Commissioner is playing a dangerous game taking credit for the “reduction” in REPORTED crime. To take credit he has to ignore the demographic trends that are causing a reduction in the number of young males (a segment of the population with the highest crime rates) as well as the number of citizens who have given up on reporting minor crimes to our police.

Barbados is a great place to live and is relatively free of major violent crimes of the types seen in for instance, Trinidad. That is a cultural factor as much as anything – but if the police want to take credit for a 2 percent reduction in crime, they had better be prepared to answer how much of that reduction is as a result of citizens giving up on reporting crime to the police.

Further Reading

Top Cop Reports Dip In Crime

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