Barbados Appeal Court: No jail time for wounding a police officer

Court delivers the wrong message at the wrong time

by Holetown Brawler

Officers of the Royal Barbados Police Force have never been stretched so thin. They have never been so under-paid and unappreciated. As of today, the organisation is at least 124 officers under strength. The salary scale is one of the lowest in the developed Caribbean and successive governments have squeezed the policing budget so much that regular staff training does not meet even the basic standards for running a retail store or hotel let alone a police force.

The last force-wide CPR (cardio pulmonary recitation) refresher course for serving Constables was over eight years ago in January 2004. People have probably died because of that, but you’ll never prove it. As a result of budgetary constraints, officers are not issued with proper identification and wallet badges for out of uniform or off duty service. There is no mandated ongoing refresher training in law and police procedures. A police officer graduates from his or her initial training and outside of the promotion requirements, that is the last time they are required to prove their knowledge of current law and proper police procedures.

The low salary means that many highly capable Bajans who might otherwise be interested in a policing career are loathe to join an organization that guarantees they will live in semi-poverty unless they make a little ‘extra’ on the side. Extra on the side is a problem with the Royal Barbados Police Force.

One More Thing

If it isn’t enough to commit yourself to a life of semi-poverty servitude as a police officer, the Barbados Court of Appeal has declared that you can expect to be beaten, wounded and pummeled by criminals who will not go to jail when convicted.

The Barbados Court of Appeal has declared that instead of going to jail for nine months, punks on the block who grab hold of a police officer’s shirt and rip it off can pay $40 for a new shirt.

Instead of spending nine months in jail for wounding a police officer, you can get away with paying $2,500 to the officer – which is probably the equivalent of what crack dealers earn in a week or a couple of days hanging on the boardwalk. The Court of Appeal says this is fine.

Assault a police officer and instead of going to jail you can pay some money and be placed on probation under the care of a probation system that doesn’t know the day of the week or whether it is punched, drilled or bored.

I have too many years committed to the RBPF to leave now, but I would if I could. I will leave at the first opportunity.

Holetown Brawler

No jail time

A Barbadian male sentenced to jail for wounding and assaulting a lawman last year will now not be seeing the inside of a prison cell.

Damien Omar Cummins has won an appeal against the Commissioner of Police with a three-member Court of Appeal panel ruling that instead of the more than a year he would have spent behind bars, he will instead have to pay Constable Kirvin Roach $2,500.

This was in addition to being on probation for two years and having to attend anger management classes. But despite changing Cummins’ sentence after reviewing his case, including the fact the presiding magistrate did not have the benefit of a pre-sentence report, the Court of Appeal issued a stern warning that the law courts would not tolerate violence against “persons in authority”, including policemen, doctors and nurses.

Cummins, who was represented by Michael Koeiman and Kristin Edwards, had appealed on the grounds that his sentence was excessive. It was on November 21 last year that he pleaded guilty to four offences and was sentenced by Magistrate Graveney Bannister in the District “A” Magistrate’s court.

He was sentenced to nine months imprisonment for unlawfully and maliciously wounding Roach, three months for assaulting the policeman with intent to prevent lawful apprehension, and three months for obstructing Roach in the execution of his duty. The sentences were to run concurrently.

Additionally, Cummins was ordered to pay $40 for damaging the policeman’s shirt or to spend four days in prison, also to run concurrently…

Read the entire sad story at Barbados Today: No Jail Time

5 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Police

5 responses to “Barbados Appeal Court: No jail time for wounding a police officer

  1. robert ross

    I have the highest respect for the senior officers at Holetown and it is right, for once, that we should hear a different perspective. Yet so many claim to be victims of police brutality and we have often heard on BFP of the idiocies of certain magistrates and, indeed, have witnessed them – in particular, in their misuse of the Bail Act.

    The Magistrate mentioned in the Barbados Today link is a prime culprit and an ex-policeman himself. That is his mind set. There are, in fact, rumblings about him in the highest judicial circles. In this particular case, seemingly he failed to request a pre-sentence report which is standard practice. This was a grave error and obviously impressed the Court of Appeal. Of course, we do not know the facts of this case and so it is difficult to say more. Nor have we seen the full report of the CA.

    But I repeat, I am glad we have something from the ‘other’ side – and, in particular about police conditions. I think it is acknowledged that there are officers who really never should have been recruited in the first place. They come over as dull, mindless people who regard themselves as beyond the law; not to speak here about levels of corruption in the service and the efficacy of the Police Complaints Commission.

  2. Newbie

    It’s about time we apply the law fairly and give justifiable sentences. Policemen get away with too, too much, especially simply because they are in authority. Unfortunately their word is taken as gospel and they use it to their full advantage.

    Policemen deserves respect but they have to give it to earn it.

  3. Mark fenty

    Newbie, I hear what your saying with respect to police misconduct. And maybe I was a little naïve with respect to the conduct of the police as a child. But I was born and raised just behind District A Police Station, and I saw it quite differently. Yes there are bad elements in every institution there is on earth, even the institution police- force for that matter. But for the most part, 99.99 % of the police -men and women I once knew were decent human beings who abideth by the oaths they took. I think that we to often take for granted the service the institution of the police- force render to the country. We hardly ever talk about the criminal elements which undermine our peace and tranquility continually. But when there is incident which is questionable with respect to police misconduct. We collectively render a verdict of guilty; before we take the time to examine meticulously the relative facts pertaining to any given incident. It is wrong for anyone of us to unilaterally, or categorically paint with a braod -brush the collective whole, for the misconduct of the few.

  4. Mark fenty

    As a child I lookup to the police as my positive role- models. Being raised in the ambiance of the police environment, were I saw nothing sacrifice and selfless service. And they mentoring and tutelage has stayed with me today now that I’m a grown man.

  5. Pingback: What “special circumstances” make it okay to bite a police officer? | Barbados Free Press