Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin has stated publicly that he will not be losing any sleep over the recently dismissed Crawford case. It appears that he believes that his responsibility, first and foremost, is to defend his officers.
I submit that this belief is misplaced. The commissioner’s first responsibility is to the people of this country. I wish to pose a series of questions to him even though I suspect that he will not lose any sleep over them either.
1. Sir, you keep referring to DNA evidence tying the suspect to the case. Where is it, and can we expect you, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Attorney General (both of whom we would have expected to be the ones commenting on this case) to bring other charges against the suspect since this DNA evidence of which you speak is so strong?
2. Are all suspects who are arrested allowed their right to legal representation at the earliest opportunity following their arrest? If we were to poll suspects who have been recently arrested, what would the findings be, in your opinion?
3. Is the interrogation of suspects conducted in a manner which is in keeping with the laws of this country, and is there any way of ensuring that this is done?
4. Is the Police Complaints Authority still functioning, and if so, can you provide statistics as to how many complaints have been made to the authority, how many have been investigated, and how many have been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties concerned?
5. Has any independent assessment been made recently of the level and quality of customer service offered by police officers, and if so, what were the findings of such an assessment?
I would like to conclude by saying that I have nothing against the Royal Barbados Police Force as long as they perform their duties within the confines of the law, and as long as they respect the rights of all citizens irrespective of whatever crime they may have been accused of.
I believe that the police force performs a critical role within our community, and that they should be given full support in their efforts to combat crime. However, that does not equate with accepting bad service or bad conduct on the part of police officers.
More and more, we are demanding that our agencies, both private and public, conform to the highest generally accepted international standards, and the police department cannot be excluded from this. We must not, as a country, allow our fear of crime and criminals to blind us to the need to ensure that the police, in the execution of their duties, do not trample on the rights of ordinary citizens.
It is fundamentally important that we ensure the preservation of the human rights of all persons living on this island, be they HIV sufferers, physically or mentally challenged persons, women, homosexuals, and even those whom we would deem criminal elements.
We often like to pretend that criminals have no rights, so we like to leave them out when we start crusading for human rights. In the same breath, we claim to be a Christian nation, and to be following the teachings of Jesus Christ, the same Jesus who reminded us in Matthew 5: 43-48:
43Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;45That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.46For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?47And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?48Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
This is not to deny the need to punish those who break the law, nor to deny that those who injure or defraud others need to make restitution. This has more to do with the fact that we cannot, as Christians, deprive anyone of their humanity, even if that person may have deprived us of ours. God is a God of human rights. He is a God who loves us despite our shortcomings, and commands us to love even the unloveable.
Let us not dehumanise – let us humanise.
— Mark A. Parris