A top official of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) says the island’s security forces are leaving no stone unturned in the build up to Foreday Morning, with one in every four police officers expected to be out on the streets between Friday night and early Saturday morning.
However, speaking at the official press conference for The Roberts Manufacturing, Barbados Light & Power Foreday Morning jump up, Acting Superintendent of Police Bruce Rowe complained that the country’s security forces were being stretched to the limit, even as he assured that a full complement of officers from the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) and other private security services would render support to members of the 1,300 strong RBPF.
The Acting Superintendent also raised strong concern that Foreday was outgrowing its present route, and he called on organizers to sit down with police to discuss future revisions.
“It is clear that growth of Foreday Morning is outgrowing the current route,” said Rowe, who suggested that the number of people who either line the streets or partake in the parade were becoming too large for the police to bear.
He explained that the situation was causing a bottleneck along the jump up route as he insisted that officials must look again at Foreday.
“When you want to put 15,000 to 18,000 revellers on that route and then we have to be concerned about the other 8,000 to 10,000 that will come out just to line the route to watch what is going on, that is creating too much of a bottleneck for us that will impede on the free flow of the bands,” Rowe said, while stressing that “manpower has been a big concern for us, we are grappling with it.”
The Acting Superintendent said the problem goes beyond Foreday to events such as Grand Kadooment which were classified as “open events”, meaning police and security officials were at a disadvantage since they were not able to search persons “on entry” like they would at closed venues such as Kensington Oval.
Rowe said the situation creates a higher safety concern for police officials.
Another matter the police spokesman raised was the growing number of private events, which also require policing. However, Rowe assured that the Force had taken these events into consideration in effecting its Crop Over management plan, even as he called on producers, outside of the National Cultural Foundation, to have their applications into the Force three to four months early in order for early assessments to be done.
“Late assessments will not be dealt with or tolerated,” Rowe warned.
At the same time, with this year’s Foreday Morning expected to be the biggest one yet, he assured revellers that the necessary security arrangements had been put in place to ensure they were safe.
“We have enhanced our security and policing product almost a 100 per cent as compared to previous years,” he reported.
In the wake of the recent threat issued on social media of a Foreday Morning “bloodbath”, Rowe also promised that security officers would not only be walking around but “we will challenging persons”.
In this regard, the senior police officer has some special words of advice for the younger people.
“I want to advise the younger generation of today, do not walk with large haversacks and large bags because we will be checking them. It’s a festival, leave the bags home, and come out and enjoy yourself,” he pleaded, while emphasizing the heavy police presence on the road for Foreday.
“This year about 25 per cent of our Force [will be] involved in policing Foreday Morning, that’s an increase in what we usually do” Rowe said.
The Acting Superintendent also stated that members of the BDF would be out in their numbers to ensure the safety of the public and the revellers along the route.
“We have it covered from starts point at Queen’s Park, BTI and BIDC, the whole route and right down to finish at Brighton Junction. So you will see as the Bajans would say, ‘a flood of police officers’ out for Foreday Morning along with the members of the Barbados Defence Force,” he said.
The festival has had limited disturbances thus far. Acting Superintendent Rowe said he would like it to continue in that way, as he further assured today that “the route will be lit like day”.
Road closures will be in effect on the night. The road running from Holborn Circle to St Michael’s Row will be impassable to all vehicular traffic, except emergency response vehicles,” Rowe said.
Another police walk through is scheduled just before Foreday Morning to make sure the lights installed are spotting how the police want them to and all of the dark spots on the route have been totally eliminated.