Folks, I have to run out and pick up the wife but when I return I will finish writing this article.
Read our previous article for the background, then the Nation News. We’ll be back later to write our comments.
Dottin clears air on shot youths
Published on: 2/16/08.
RECENTLY, a report was carried in at least one local newspaper which suggested that members of the Royal Barbados Police Force, in responding to a report at Deacons Road, St Michael, had shot and injured two young men.
One of the implications that could be drawn from that report was that the police officers acted recklessly. An investigation was immediately ordered to determine the circumstances under which the men were injured and who was responsible for the injuries caused. In the interest of accuracy, truthfulness and accountability, the force now shares its findings with members of the public.
Sometime on January 19 members of the Force responded to a report at Deacons Road St Michael. As police officers entered that community and prepared to disembark from their vehicle they were fired upon by a young man. One police officer discharged his firearm in response to that attack. Later, it was discovered that two bystanders were shot during the altercation. Immediately thereafter, some members of the public accused the police of being responsible for shooting these two men.
Forensic evidence and the account of eyewitnesses have clearly shown that neither of the two men was shot by police officers. Furthermore, a man has been arrested and charged with several offences relating to this incident including the injuries inflicted on two persons.
This incident has generated significant public debate and in response I wish to raise the following points for consideration.
In Barbados an investigation into the actions of members of the Royal Barbados Police Force can be triggered by a complaint to the Police Complaints Authority. To the best of our knowledge, no formal complaint has been made
as yet in relation to the matter under reference. In the public interest we urge any person who in any way feels aggrieved by any action of the police in this matter to immediately register their complaints with the Authority.
We would welcome an independent investigation into this matter as the reputation of the Force has been impugned by unfounded allegations. It must be noted that Section 11 of the Police Complaints Authority Act, CAP 167A of the Laws of Barbados, provides for the making of complaints by any member of the public who is aggrieved or by his agent. Where the aggrieved person had died or is otherwise unable, the complaint may be made by any other member of the public.
The powers of the authority, which are quite far-reaching, empowers that body, among other things, to monitor
the conduct of any investigation by the Force into any complaint, with a view to ensuring that the investigation is conducted impartially. It may also supervise or in specified circumstances undertake the direct investigation of complaints.
I now draw attention to some other issues. One of these is our search for an understanding of what motivates some members of a community to react in this manner to law enforcement, including a resort to monstrous untruths and hostility. It begs the question as to whether or not this is a display of a general disregard for law and order, authority figures and institutions. We in the force recognise we must engage in much soul-searching. Moreover, from
a national perspective, it also requires quite serious consideration as to how we are going to resolve these issues.
The point must also be made that the Force appreciates its obligation to be accountable to the public it serves. Indeed, the concept of accountability is embedded in the core values of the Force. Furthermore, the powers given to the police in the discharge of their duties are statutory, and as such police officers are legally held accountable for their actions. These are ideals in which we believe and, quite frankly, would not have it any other way. They form part of the bedrock of our democracy.
We also subscribe to the concept of policing by consent as this is not only critical to a stable environment, but also facilitates collaboration and the healthy exchange of ideas between the police and members of the public. This is an arrangement that greatly enhances our capacity to develop effective crime prevention and operational initiatives.
Police public relations is another matter that comes under scrutiny as we reflect on this incident. Indeed, significant damage, some irreparable, can be done to this relationship when persons are quick to take sides without access to all of the facts. This further underscores the need for the force to continue its practice of sharing timely and relevant information with members of the public. All of this would be done with the understanding that at times certain considerations would impose constraints as to what extent we can share certain information.
We continue to urge the support of the public for our efforts, and we do so without any expectation of blind support. However, Barbadians must fully appreciate the need to support their police officers as these are extremely challenging times for all of us. Undoubtedly, most Barbadians are aware of the extent of deviance and violence that affects our society.
Therefore, as we continue to manage the issues of crime and disorder that affect this country, we again call for support of our efforts to maintain stability and order.
– COMMISSIONER OF POLICE Darwin Dottin