RBPF Constable Torey Brathwaite dies at father’s home
The police aren’t saying much other than 25 year old Torey Brathwaite was found by his father on Thursday morning. There is no indication if drugs or foul play are suspected.
Constable Brathwaite had been suspended since he was arrested in December 2008 for possession and trafficking in cocaine. The amount of drugs involved was over a kilo, so this man was no little fish. Oh sure, a kilo of coke is not a shipping container, but it’s not a couple of baggies of herb if you understand what I’m saying here.
I’m sorry for his parents, his family and his school friends who say he wasn’t a bad fellow, nevermind his recent new troubles and that bad decision two years ago that cost him so dearly.
Mostly I feel sorry for Barbados and yes, for Commissioner Dottin, and for the many many good police officers who give it their best every day as they try to make do with inadequate equipment, poor laws and a budget and salaries that mock our claim to be the Caribbean’s premier high end tourist destination.
Memories of Hong Kong
I remember seeing a BBC documentary maybe 15 years ago about “The most corrupt police in the world” that featured the top ten baddies including the Hong Kong Police. The one truth that stuck with me was that the monthly salary for a police constable in Hong Kong at that time was less than the average monthly rent for a one bedroom flat – so of course the police were corrupt! They had to be to eat.
Last I heard Commissioner Dottin speaking, our police force was over 100 officers short and we couldn’t find enough suitable candidates willing to work for the peanuts we pay our police. You see those police spear fishing in the surf holes all the time near Bathsheba? Talk to them, they don’t fish for pleasure.
Barbados Police and Drugs
Commissioner Dottin recently said that many recruit candidates test positive for drugs. Well do ya think? Of course they do, because we don’t offer enough to attract highly qualified or even moderately qualified candidates. We attract three types of candidates: 1/ Young highly motivated and qualified people for whom salary is not the primary motivation, 2/ Unqualified or barely qualified people who can’t get a better job paying more money, and 3/ Criminals who see the police as a means to power and protection.
Missing from that profile of our recruits is a middle ground of reasonably-well qualified mature candidates who would consider a long term career with the police. We used to hire many of those good people, but times changed and salaries haven’t kept up with the private sector. The RBPF is not a competitive employer and hasn’t been in a long time so many good people who would serve as police officers except for the low pay are forced to go elsewhere.
Police are the primary guardians of our tourism based economy.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: our tourism based economy relies more on our reputation as a safe destination than on our beaches and sun.
There’s lots of prettier destinations than Barbados out there, but without the safety and security factor, nothing else matters so we usually win the toss. But lately we’re starting to slip.
The solution to low police salaries: Give 50% of the BTA’s budget to policing
Take 50% of the Barbados Tourism Authority’s budget which would be about $50 million dollars and give it to the police in addition to what they get now. Give the police a good raise this year and every year for the next five years until we start to attract better candidates.
Or… we can go the Jamaican model and start to build more walled all-inclusive resorts surrounded by guards and filled with tourists who seldom venture out for reasons of safety.
Take your pick Barbados – but if we don’t make big investments in our policing in the next few years, we will have chosen walled enclaves for the future whether we mean to or not.
Constable Tory Brathwaite was also the subject of a confrontation between the police and the news media – that faded off the radar.
The Nation removed the stories from their news archives, but we’ve got them here for you…
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, December 21, 2008 – As a police officer in Barbados faced the court on drug charges – the fourth to be accused of a crime this year – Police Commissioner Darwin Dottin expressed serious concern about the number of lawmen finding themselves on the wrong side of the law. But he says the problem is one which the entire region must deal with.”It is a problem we have spotted, and is something we are serious about addressing,” he said, adding that the issue has engaged the attention of the Caribbean Association of Police Commissioners.
He suggested that review of the processes which regional police forces use to recruit and train officers is one of the approaches that could be used to find solutions to the problem.
Commissioner Dottin made the comments over the weekend after 23-year-old Constable Tory Brathwaite appeared in court accused, with another man, of possession and trafficking of cocaine. He was released on BDS$50,000 (US$25,000) bail.
The officer’s court appearance also set the stage for a confrontation between lawmen and media workers, as two photojournalists were arrested when they attempted to take pictures and record footage of Constable Brathwaite. A photographer from the Nation newspaper and a cameraman working with the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) are expected to appear in court today, charged with assaulting and resisting a police officer. They were released on BDS$1,000 (US$500) bail.
Commissioner Dottin said he has launched a full investigation into the incident.
But the situation also prompted him to highlight another concern – that of police-media relations. There have been a number of similar incidents between media workers and police officers in the country.
“We desperately need to find out why things like this keep occurring. We will have to look at ways to deal with it, by accelerating a meeting between senior members of the force and senior managers in the media,” the Police Commissioner said.
A front page comment in the Nation newspaper yesterday lamented the deteriorating relations between the two sides.
“We must begin to build back those good relations of days gone by, because the present situation is untenable and the public interest will suffer as a result,” it said.
The newspaper added that it was still awaiting the outcome of investigations which Commissioner Dottin promised after similar incidents in the recent past.
NATION PHOTOGRAPHER CHERIE PITT being pushed off the compound of Central Police Station yesterday. Centre is NATION reporter Phillippe Aimey, who was later told not to return to the compound. The two were on duty at the time. Inset Pitt, being ordered off. She was later arrested and charged with resisting arrest.
Journalists from the affected media houses made their way to the Central Police Station when news broke that two of their colleagues had been arrested.
The yard of the station became the gathering ground after the arrests of photographer Cherie Pitt of the Nation Publishing Company and videographer Jimmy Gittens of the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
The Nation’s Executive Editor Roxanne Gibbs and Associate Editor Barry Alleyne along with CBC chairman Leroy Parris and General Manager Lars Sodestrom and others were at the scene.