Should police officers openly discuss politics?
We have many sayings in Barbados and two of my favourites are mostly true: “Everything is political” and “Nothing is secret for long”.
Everything can’t help being political in a smaller society where everyone knows everyone else and knows everyone else’s business. You can sneak around on Bim with somebody’s husband or wife but sooner or later it will out. Sneaking around always does out in Bim.
No secrets when it come to politics either! Bees against Dems on election day and after election day too. In the public service when a supervisor position opens up, LOOK OUT! Watch the Bees and the Dems line up to support their brothers and sisters.
Our last Chief Justice – just the highest judge in the country that’s all – was a former BLP politician, attorney general and acting Prime Minister. Did something ever get judged one way and not some other way because the judge was a BLP and the accused was a BLP member too? That was always in the back of people’s minds and it shouldn’t have been. Whether David Simmons was a good Chief Justice or not doesn’t matter if it looked bad that he was a politician in charge of the courts.
When there is a possible conflict of interest based on family or friendships or business relationships it damages the people’s faith in the institutions. A big criticism of Chief Justice Simmons accepting the position was that it looked bad, and caused people to be suspicious that the highest judge might have conflicts of interest based on his politics.
So it can be with other government professions too, and that includes police officers.
“This tell me something about Owen Arthur, he pushed out Mia because he wanted to be prime minister if they won the elections, now they lost he put he back in, give the man 2 bottles of Mount Gay and tell him go home and don’t come back. My respect to Mia for taking things so cool.”
Posted on the BLP Facebook page by a Detective Constable of the Royal Barbados Police Force
Is it proper if a police officer discusses politics on the internet while identifying themselves as a police officer?
That’s what one Barbados Detective Constable recently did on the Barbados Labour Party Facebook discussion page. If I’m a member of the Democratic Labour Party and I have dealings with a police I know is a BLP supporter, should I be worried? If nothing bad happens should Bajans be concerned that it just looks worrisome?
Many countries have rules against police officers belonging to political parties or engaging in public political discussions. A little internet research results in many news articles about this from around the world.
In Sierra Leone, the Superintendent of Police said “any police officer found in public support of any political party during and after the 2012 elections will be discharged of his/her duties.”
The Institute for Security Studies in Africa says:
“Success in maintaining election security depends upon the political neutrality and professionalism of the security personnel. Police officers should not belong to any political party or promote partisan views. They should do their job without any bias towards any of the contesting parties.”
Some states in the USA prohibit police from running for political office, and most prohibit police from political activity when working or wearing their uniforms.
Barbados needs to pay more attention to conflicts of interest by people in public employment and especially in positions of power. Our police officers shouldn’t be engaging in public discussions of politics or be seen to be supporters of any particular political party, be that DLP or BLP.