The Royal Barbados Police Force has described the conduct of some vendors and public service vehicle (PSV) operators in the Constitution River Bus Terminal as chaotic, and is warning that it intends to restore order to that facility, particularly with the planned opening soon of a new terminal.
However, during a surprise tour of the compound for a first-hand assessment, Divisional Commander for Bridgetown Senior Superintendent Eucklyn Thompson gave the assurance that the Force would not deploy any heavy-handed approaches in its quest to maintain law and order there.
Accompanied by Acting Assistant Superintendent in charge of Operations Peter Gibson, Deputy Divisional Commander for Bridgetown Margaret Stephen, Acting Inspector in Charge of Central Police Station Wendell Thomas and Public Relations Officer Acting Inspector Rodney Inniss, Thompson told reporters their visit was motivated by recent incidents at the facility, including a murder and an altercation between officers and two PSV workers.
A fight at the van stand last week between two police officers and PSV employees Travis Tremaine Brathwaite, 30, of Sealy Hall, St Philip and James Anthony Andrews, 34, of Apple Hall Terrace in the same parish, landed Andrews and Brathwaite before Magistrate Graveney Bannister in the District ‘A’ Traffic Court where they pleaded not guilty to a number of charges, including assaulting a police officer. Both were remanded to Her Majesty’s Prison Dodds in St Philip until June 1.
“We are hoping that when this complex is open and in full flow that there will be a better flow of police activity in terms of . . . crowd control [and] general behaviour of the people. We are hoping we can get that resolved, because really it’s a no no for anybody to think that in our country that you can assault officers and it is alright. It is not alright,” Thompson cautioned.
The altercation between the PSV workers and the officers was caught on video and went viral on social media. It showed one man in a vicious fight with the male officer, while other PSV employees intervened to put an end to the fight.
Thompson advised those who had problems with police officers to refer their cases to the Police Complaints Authority instead of getting into altercations with the law.
He said lawmen wanted a first-hand feel for what was going on “in this very volatile environment”, and what they found during today’s visit suggested “we have to have a greater grip on events that are occurring in this area”.
The senior policeman spoke of illegal vending and the illegal construction of a number of poorly managed vending structures that inhibit the flow of traffic.
“We cannot afford to let it continue like this. We have to approach it in a very structured way so that the chaos can stop. At this time, we are prepared not to come down for people to believe that we come to embark on any heavy-handed approach. But we want people to recognize that illegal vending, just like any illegal activity, just cannot go on in our presence and we do nothing about it,” Thompson stressed.
He said PSV drivers and conductors appeared not to be getting the message that “what they are doing is wrong” and they needed to be orderly.
However, the senior officer said he was hopeful that the new terminal, scheduled to open on Tuesday, would help engender a fresh attitude and improved behaviour.
“There is a general feeling that when the building is fully operational that it will bring order to bear on this facility . . . this environment. And in that regard, it would be even better for us. In fact, we are going to have additional enforcement against recklessness and lawlessness. We are going to have additional people, and it would make it even easier for the police officers who would be functioning out here,” Thompson said.