Commissioner Dottin Pulls His Punches So As Not To Embarrass His Government Masters
Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin told an awards ceremony audience last Saturday that more Bajans are killed in road accidents than are murdered each year. That sobering fact doesn’t even consider the devastating injuries sustained in the dozens more serious accidents that cripple people for life and destroy faces, families and livelihoods.
“We must bring an end to this carnage on our roads,” said Commissioner Dottin. (See The Nation News: Dottin Concerned About Road Deaths)
We at BFP agree that road safety through prevention and enforcement must continue to be a priority of the Royal Barbados Police Force – but we also believe that the police administration should have enough courage and sense of duty to Barbados to occasionally say what needs to be said: even if doing so would put the police in the position of revealing a failure of government. (Frankly, it would be healthy to see the police criticize government once in a while ’bout here. At least then the police wouldn’t always come across as private agents of the government rather than agents of the people and the rule of law. Ha… not to mention the police being unethically used to collect private debts as in the case of Ronjan Juman! – Juman story link here)
Commissioner Dottin’s Lie Of Omission
What was unsaid in the Commissioner’s speech is that the Royal Barbados Police Force lacks even the basic tools of breathalyser laws and equipment that professional policing organizations in most other jurisdictions take for granted.
The fact that the Commissioner of Police did not mention the lack of breathalyser laws and technology in a speech about road carnage means that he was being considerate of his political masters – to not offend the government or provide any sort of basis for their criticism. In this lie of omission, Commissioner Dottin once again showed that his loyalty is to the government first, and to the people of Barbados and policing second.
Barbados Has No Breathalyzer Laws – No Way Of Knowing How Much A Driver In A Fatal Crash Had Been Drinking
This year has been a terrible one for road mass casualties road accidents. Six dead at the Joes River tour bus crash, four more dead in the Emancipation Day crash and others. But in these and other serious crashes, aside from an autopsy, Barbados Police have no way of proving how much an involved driver has been drinking.
That is because our government has been negligent in providing the legal structure and the equipment that the police need to protect us all.
Back on July 25, 2006, Barbados Free Press reviewed the aborted Road Traffic Act that the government was to introduce the next day. We said that the government could put a breathalyzer law and equipment in place in six months. That was almost a year and a half ago…
Drinking and Driving Still Not Effectively Addressed
All of this is a good start, but unfortunately doesn’t address the problem of drinking and driving – which is a concern on Barbados.
Unless there is something about the new legislation that the newspapers haven’t covered, Barbados still lacks an effective drinking and driving law.
If we are really concerned about public safety, we must have effective drinking-driving laws in place and equip the police with modern breathalizers and train enough officers as technicians to ensure 24/7 coverage.
So while we are pleased with the Government’s initiative as far as it goes, we can only give it a “B-Minus” or even “C-Plus” grade in terms of overall road safety performance.
How long would it take to get an effective drunk driving law and testing equipment & personnel in place? Six months if we started today?
How about it MPs? Can you make it happen in six months?
… from the July 26, 2006 BFP article Barbados Government To Ban Cell Phones While Driving
Government Continues What It Does Best: Promises That Fade Into Oblivion…
Then in August of this year – in the wake of the mass deaths and with an election in the air – Minister of Transport Gline Clarke announced that the government was going to “study” breathalyzers.
What a sad joke.
Here is what Barbados Free Press said at the time, and it still applies. Perhaps Commissioner of Police Dottin will remember where he put his courage and sense of duty if he reads it…
“Committee To Study Breathalyzers” – Who Does Gline Clarke Think He Is Fooling?
Civilized jurisdictions all over the world have amassed tens thousands of legal cases, trials, reports, and committees to develop modern laws, training and operational standards for the police and the courts. The breathaliser technology itself is now computerised, mass produced, more accurate and cheaper than it has ever been. Roadside screening units for uniform patrol officers can be had for a few hundred dollars. The laws in British common law countries are decades old… been through the Supreme Courts and back again.
What’s your problem, Minister Clarke?
What have you been doing for the past year? What has your government been doing for the past 13 years of slaughter?
Your so-called “committee” and press conference is too little. Too late.
And worst of all – you only mentioned the word “breathaliser” because it is politically expedient to do so because of the upcoming election, the recent road slaughter and your government’s pathetic performance.
If you need some legally-proven legislation, I suggest you try Britain or Canada or the United States or Australia for a template. It has all been done. The technology, laws, training and operational experience are yours for a few phone calls.
Just stop pretending that you and your government really care and are actually capable of implementing breathalisers within our lifetime.
… from the BFP August 13, 2007 article Minister of Transport Gline Clarke Finally “Talking” About Driver Breathaliser Tests – As First Suggested By By Barbados Free Press Over A Year Ago