Was Chief Justice Simmons right? Is it time to bring in the Military?
The end of a murderous weekend has the Royal Barbados Police Force advising members of the public to avoid walking alone in secluded areas and to exercise care when anyone approaches their property.
A list of murders and violence over the last few days has folks wondering if they somehow moved to Jamaica or Trinidad without realising it.
Interestingly enough, when the Nation News first published their story of the violence it was called “Days of Mayhem“. A few hours later the title was changed to “Three die on tragic weekend.” I guess the politically correct people got to the editors!
Woman shot in head. Store keeper murdered. Man shot in legs by robbers. Elderly woman slashed in home. Body found in field. And on and on and on…
A St. George couple are lucky to be alive after three armed masked men smashed their way into a home on Friday morning and demanded money, strangely enough claiming that they were police officers. When the couple ran the woman was shot in the head. She is lucky to be alive as the bullet grazed her skull: another half inch lower and it would have been murder. That night the mother of our director of the Department of Emergency Management, Judy Thomas, was attacked in her home by a man with a cutlass. Police arrested a man for burglary. The 85 year old victim is recovering from serious cuts in hospital.
The fun continued on Saturday night with a man shot in both legs by robbers while he was out walking in St. Michael. Then on Sunday Mr. Anderson Phillips, the proprietor of Pam’s Variety store, was shot to death by two men as he closed the Christ Church business. The next morning the body of 74 year old Aron Joseph was found in a St. Philip field. Police are calling his death “unnatural” but haven’t released further details.
Chronic Understaffing of our Police Force – A deliberate choice by government
The Royal Barbados Police Force is, last we heard, still about 100 officers shy of authorised strength. The force is finding it difficult to recruit sufficient personnel despite having lowered the educational standards to attract persons who were once deemed not educated enough to be officers.
The problem is, of course, money. The people who drive the Sanitation Service Authority’s garbage trucks make a higher wage than many officers of the Royal Barbados Police Force.
This travesty was initially brought about under the previous Arthur/Mottley BLP Government, but after two years of the Thompson DLP Government, police salaries remain absurdly low. As we keep pointing out, after almost two years in government David Thompson now owns the problem and he’s done nothing to correct it.
A while ago Chief Justice David Simmons suggested that our police and military should be amalgamated into one entity. The police and the military have long operated joint patrols in “difficult” areas, and these were stepped up after the murder in broad daylight of Canadian tourist Terry Schwarzfeld.
Frankly, it almost seems as if this crisis in citizen safety has been engineered by successive governments. Considering that public safety is the foundation of our tourism industry we are at a loss to explain how our BLP and DLP governments allowed things to get this bad.
Now Barbadians are forced to choose between bringing in more military personnel or continuing the slaughter brought about in part by inadequate staffing of our police force.
Frankly we weren’t surprised to hear our Chief Justice suggesting a para-military police force and ending the independence of the police and military as Mr. Simmons actions have long shown that he favours eliminating independent branches of government. His own appointment effectively placed the Barbados Labour Party in charge of the nation’s courts.
As we wrote in a previous article about the Barbados Military being used to “police” the country…
Good men and women instinctively realize that the consolidation of government powers in the hands of any small group is dangerous. That is why democratic societies take care to split powers and responsibilities among of the various arms of government, and to ensure that societal institutions function with independence and always under the scrutiny of other balancing entities.
No one person, group or institution should have the power to operate without being accountable to society at large, and this accountability is often structured into the system on multiple levels.
The David Thompson DLP government refuses to pay a living wage to officers of the Royal Barbados Police Force. Joint patrols with the military are being stepped up to fill in the gaps, but the military are not police officers.
As the violence grows, the Thompson government will have to make up its mind: more military, or more police?
Which will it be, Mr. Prime Minister?
A professional police force, well paid, adequately staffed and trained… or young soldiers with automatic weapons on our streets? Or the status quo of doing nothing and letting everything go to hell in a handbasket?
Your choice Mr. Prime Minister.
Nation News: Days of Mayhem
Keltruth Blog: Police, Army and Chief Justice in Barbados