Members of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) are being urged not to fear the prospect of being recorded by the public while carrying out their duties.
In the wake of a video which went viral on social media, appearing to show a police officer mistreating a taxi driver and his passenger, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite said the digital recording did not tell the full story.
In any event, he said, lawmen should welcome such recordings since the officers ought to be doing their job by the book at all times.
“First thing you only see part of the clip, you don’t see the complete video. So that’s why I don’t speculate, but that one I can comment on. You know the other guy keeping lots of noise about ‘don’t search my vehicle; you don’t have the right to search my vehicle’. Now I will have to assume that if the police search a vehicle there must be some basis for the police officer to say, ‘well let us stop the vehicle’, but you don’t see that [in the video].”
“What I have said to the [Police] Commissioner and his team, ‘we need to train the officers to not be afraid of WhatsApp’. If you are doing your job like you are supposed to then the cell phone is actually your friend, the video is your friend. You need not be afraid of it. Just do what they supposed to do,” Brathwaite told the media on the sidelines of a three-day anti-money laundering workshop at the Radisson Aquatica Hotel.
A taxi operator last week told Barbados TODAY that he was on his way to Ruby, St Philip recently when he was stopped by police just past Six Roads.
The episode which was posted on social media before being subsequently removed, showed the driver refusing to allow officers to search his vehicle, demanding to see a warrant before such a search could be conducted. Not getting through to the taxi operator, the police officers turned their attention to the passenger, leading to an exchange that ended in the passenger’s arrest, the driver said.
Although reluctant to say whether or not he thought the officers involved had abused their authority, the Brathwaite made it clear that he saw little wrong in the manner in which the officers carried out the arrest on the passenger.
“This guy was saying to the police officer, ‘don’t search me, take me to the station’. Now a bit of common sense, would you put somebody behind you in your vehicle, without patting them down to see if they have a weapon? Would that make sense that a police officer cannot search someone but put him in the police vehicle? That doesn’t make sense,” Brathwaite stressed.
The Attorney General also urged the two men to lodge a complaint with the Police Complaint Authority (PCA) if they felt they were wronged by the lawmen.
He also cautioned the public against entertaining the notion of widespread police misuse of power, stating that most of the complaints received by the PCA trivial.