Despite reporting a drop in serious crimes, the country’s top police officer is describing 2016 as a “very challenging” year for the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF).
With its human resources already stretched due to the difficulty experienced in attracting recruits, having to police events associated with the year-long celebration of the island’s 50th anniversary of Independence did not help.
“2016 was really a very challenging year,” Acting Commissioner Tyrone Griffith said Friday.
“The Force would have had to endure a lot in that if you look at the 50th anniversary alone, you know that was for the entire year . . . there were events going and lots of things were happening, especially as we came to the end of the year,” Griffith told Barbados TODAY.
Worryingly for the RBPF are the large numbers of illegal firearms on the country’s streets despite a rise in the number of gun seizures, the top cop explained as he vowed that lawmen were doing all they could to address this problem.
Griffith has in the past accused Customs officers of either assisting in the importation of guns or not detecting them at the borders.
On the up side, the police chief said there had been substantial decreases in serious crimes such as murders, burglaries, aggravated burglaries and crimes against visitors.
And while promising to provide crime statistics early in the New Year, he said even with the drop in serious offences, the lawmen were forced to cope.
“Even though to date we have seen in all major areas of crime there are fairly significant reductions, the fact of the matter is that there is still more crime than we would wish for. And so we would have to grapple [with it],” Griffith said.
Faced with a shortage of officers, the commissioner revealed that consideration was being given to the increased use of technology to help make up for the deficiency.
He also wants a closer working relationship between the Force and Barbadians, especially the youth, in the coming year.
“Whatever we can do to support them [the youth] we have to, because they are the future, and whatever bridges we build now would serve us well down the road, long after I have gone,” Griffith pointed out.
Meantime, the Acting Commissioner of Police said he was awaiting word from the Police Service Commission (PSC) as to how he should proceed with promotions following last week’s High Court ruling against 14 police officers who had sued the PSC for excluding them from a list for promotion four years ago.
“I am waiting to get a directive on the matter. I still have to wait on the [Police] Service Commission to hear what is the way forward,” he said.
The leading lawman emphasized it was important to get a decision on the case so the force could move on, while dismissing any suggestions that the lawsuit had affected morale.
The key issue, Griffith stressed, was for everybody to support the RBPF and make its improvement a common goal.