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.
“People still aren’t taking road safety serious enough,” Inspector Blades told a Nation reporter. We agree – and included in those who aren’t taking road safety seriously enough are members of the Royal Barbados Police Force who fail to enforce the Road Traffic Act.
For according to the interview as published in The Nation, Barbados police are fully aware that various Government departments illegally transport workers in open-back trucks and do so on a regular basis. Inspector Blades stated that these departments “had to” (break the law) because these government departments lack suitable vehicles.
So there you have it folks. Our police admit to selectively not enforcing a part of the law that just resulted in the death of a young man.
Reality ’bout hey
Inspector Blades shouldn’t be blamed for simply telling the truth. We know that the “rule of law” (which is that the law applies to all equally) is a foreign concept throughout many areas of our society. Bajans know that in Barbados the law is a tool to be used in the hands of the powerful, the rich and the authorities. The law is not something that applies equally to all.
That little cultural nuance undermines the authority of our police and undermines the respect that citizens have for the police and other government agencies – but that’s reality on this island. Every Bajan knows that the law does not apply to all, that it is not enforced equally and this is just one more example.
We do find it embarrassing and disturbing though when a senior police officer so naturally illustrates how foreign the concept of “Rule of Law” is to our police. It reminds us of when our police wouldn’t enter a gated community for four days to assist a female victim of domestic assault because… the police weren’t aware of the law, their powers under the law and their duty to enforce the law equally. See BFP’s article: Beat Your Wife In Barbados? You Are Protected From The Police If You Live In A Gated Community!
Barbados already has a “Road Safety Czar”
During the interview Inspector Blades called for the appointment of “a road safety czar who could embark on an international-style road safety campaign.”
Well guess what, folks? We already have a “road safety czar” and that is the officer in charge of the RBPF Traffic Division. That happens to be none other than Inspector Blades himself. Does he need to be reminded that he is the man in charge of traffic safety in Barbados?
“Blades said the police would also be willing to meet with Government departments such as the Barbados Water Authority, National Conservation Commission, Ministry of Transport and Works, and the National Petroleum Corporation, departments which used open-back vehicles and sometimes transported employees on them.”
Oh, you mean that the police don’t do that already? Why not, Inspector Blades? Why don’t your Traffic Division police meet regularly with government agencies and companies that have large numbers of drivers? Why doesn’t the Traffic Division have in place a programme of meeting with young drivers and the public to educate them about the law and to foster good public relations?
All of these things that are being called for Inspector Blades are good ideas, but they are things that he and his officers should already be doing.
Most police forces throughout North America and Europe see public education and prevention of auto accidents as a normal part of their duties. Visit a few websites and you’ll soon realise how serious most police forces are about road safety education and enforcing traffic safety laws.
After all, as RBPF Commissioner of Police Dottin so regularly points out, Barbados loses more people to road deaths than to murder.
Inspector Blades is correct about one thing: It is time for people to “get serious” about road safety. Well, he’s in charge of all our Traffic Division resources and manpower – and he must have a copy of the Road Traffic Act and a telephone on his desk.
What’s he waiting for?
* The Nation initially spelled the victim’s name “Roosi Straughn” but his aunt wrote “Rossi Straughn”. Barbados Free Press would appreciate confirmation of the correct spelling. Thank you.
Further Reading at The Nation