Professional Journalism or Subtle Propaganda?
Yesterday we told you about the Royal Barbados Police Force failing to attend calls for help at the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary. The sanctuary staff reported crimes in progress including theft of fish, threats and gunshots. The police did not attend, and the Graeme Hall staff had to go to the police station to file a report. (Previous BFP story here)
Now the Barbados Advocate has covered the story, but “adjusted” the wording surrounding the non-attendance of the police to be rather ambiguous. One would think from reading the article that the police attended, they were just a minute too late. (Click the above article image in red)
It went on for hours. Theft in progress. Threats. Sounds of gunshots.
And the Royal Barbados Police Force never arrived… but the “professional” news media is soft-peddling the facts of the story for political purposes.
Years Of Unacceptable Police Non-Performance
In the past three years, the Royal Barbados Police Force has come under heavy and increasing criticism from citizens and the courts for various failures, shortcomings and wrong-doings. We can debate forever about what caused the deterioration of what was once a premier law enforcement organisation in the region, but few citizens will argue against the statement that the RBPF has been in deep decline for a number of years.
The most recent (and well deserved) criticism followed the Long Beach murder of a Canadian tourist, Terry Schwarzfeld. Subsequent to the arrest of Curtis Joel Foster for the murder, the public discovered that the man had committed a series of tourist robberies and rapes in the very location where Schwarzfeld was murdered – a series of vicious crimes that had been hushed up by the police and the news media for almost a year!
The best the Bajan media could come up with that approached criticism of the police was a recent article in The Nation titled Long Beach Robbery Cases Under Review. When questioned why the police had been so ineffective in protecting tourists from violent attacks at one location for a whole year, Dottin lamely replied “We will certainly learn from the review that is being undertaken. But I want to stress it is a reasonable question.”
The words “Under review” from Police Commissioner Darwin Dottin pretty well sums it up… the failings of the Royal Barbados Police Force will be “reviewed” by the police themselves, who are in truth unaccountable to anyone but themselves. There is no civilian oversight of the police in Barbados.
Public Relations Campaign Instead Of Professional Performance Levels By Our Police
But true to the Bajan model for deflecting and ignoring criticism, the police and their media friends are now engaged in a massive “good publicity” campaign to boost the image of the Royal Barbados Police Force. No changes have been made, you understand. What they are doing is to announce plans and intents – along with a good dose of “We hear and We care” statements. The Barbados Advocate jumped on board to announce Police On The Right Track.
No outcomes or successes will be announced because, well, the RBPF are selling image, not effect – intent, not changes implemented. In today’s Nation, Dottin has the police as victims, saying “You just can’t win“ against a critical public. Poor baby. Not to fear though, for the Barbados Police have just signed a deal with the USA to report illegal firearms into a US database. Great… that rates about four news major articles ’bout what the police “gonna do”.
Let’s Look At Real Police Performance, Shall We?
A series of violent tourist robberies and a rape occurred on Long Beach over a year. Anyone who has watched a detective movie has seen crime maps on the police station wall with different coloured pins denoting various crimes, locations and frequencies. The police are able to look at the map and spot trends, clusters of crimes, high crime areas and crimes with similar suspect descriptions and methods. The LEADERS in the police then prioritise and task personnel to take care of the worst and most important crime clusters.
You know, crime clusters like a series of tourists being robbed, beaten and raped on the same stretch of beach for over a year! Oh sure, after the murder that just had to come as the robber became more and more emboldened by the lack of police at his favourite robbery site over a whole year – we have the pathetic politicans saying that NOW they are going to de-bush the area and put more police patrols on the beach. Too little, and way too late for Terry Schwarzfeld. (Nation News: Extra protection measures for Long Beach after attack)
Somebody failed to note the violent crime rampage against tourists at Long Beach for over a year. Somebody failed to detail sufficient police resources to protect the tourists and arrest the suspect.
And because of those police failures, Canadian tourist Terry Schwarzfeld died – and our most important industry is further imperiled as it is being pummeled by the economic crisis.
It is time for Commissioner Dottin to do the honourable thing. It is time for the Royal Barbados Police Force to have the dynamic leadership and resources that it needs to protect Barbadians, our visitors and our economy.