Police and criminals beware!
Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith today served notice of his intention to utilise “video patrols” on the streets of Barbados as a means of tracking down criminal elements, as well as ensuring that officers stay in line.
Noting that the Force has been dogged in the past by allegations of coerced confessions, Griffith also said he had plans to incorporate “video-enhanced” identification parades and in camera interrogation of suspects.
At the same time, the top cop issued a stern warning to his officers that they needed to either fully embrace the technology or move out.
He was addressing the closing ceremony of a four–day training development seminar for 15 gazetted officers at the Regional Security System (RSS) headquarters in Paragon, Christ Church.
Griffith said that officers attached to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), who were on the frontline of most criminal cases, would initially use the technology.
He noted that since he revealed his intention to implement some of these initiatives, particularly the screening and polygraphing of investigators assigned to the CID and its associated units, he had been met with some resistance internally, including threats of legal action against him.
However, the top cop is adamant that the plan must go forward.
”There are persons who will want to resist this, but we have to be strong and stick to our guns. In the long run, this will augur well for the department’s image,” he said.
“All these things can only help to build the image of the Force. Sometimes people say all kinds of adverse things about officers and you have nothing to support the officers or refute these claims unless you have some material piece of evidence that can show the contrary,” he later told Barbados TODAY.
While stressing the need for leaders and future leaders of the Force to be bold in their efforts, Griffith had earlier warned participants in the seminar that “we have from time to time been faced with allegations of coerced confessions; accused persons can have a field day casting aspersions on officers’ reputations. “Investigators will have to step up to the plate and embrace the technology . . . those detectives who fail to so embrace will fall by the wayside,” he said.
“You will encounter those steeped in antiquity or fixed in their ways, you need to press on despite this. The Royal Barbados Police Force has its hands full, and, too, requires bold initiatives to deal with the same. It is for us as leaders to ensure that we do all we can to prevent them [officers] from so falling,” Griffith added.
With respect to video and audio recording interrogations of suspects, Griffith, himself a former top criminal investigator, noted that investigators had already begun to conduct electronically recorded interviews of suspects, adding that legislation to guide the process was “very advanced” and due to take effect by 2015.
Similarly, with the introduction of the PROMAT system of identification (video identification parades), which, he said, is not too far off, will greatly improve the cooperation of witnesses who were often afraid to confront the accused in persons. It will also eliminate the difficulty that officers encounter on finding suitable persons put on the parade.
“The advent of electronic interviewing over time will result in allegations of forced confessions fading away. This will be unpopular, but it needs one to be bold enough to do what is best for the organization. Whatever we do, we must always put the interest of the organization above all other considerations. This is critical to successfully manage change. It may be unpopular now but in some time down the road wisdom will be seen,” the Commissioner stressed.