A move is afoot to have all police officers on the streets armed given the alarming level of gun-related crime plaguing the island and the seemingly easy access to weapons by a bolder type of criminal.
President of the Police Association of Barbados (PAB) Mervin Grace said today this is among the body’s priorities for 2019.
“That is definitely a concern and it is being addressed. We will be looking at making sure that our members are all qualified to carry firearms. The senior command team is changing our firearms policy, but that is an internal matter. You would recognize that in recent times, a number of policemen are on the road actually wearing protective
gear,” Grace told Barbados TODAY.
“So that is one of the things they have been looking at. We have been pushing to get our members armed. In these times you see we have an increase in the firearm-related crime. Crime in Barbados might be down, but you are hearing a lot of firearm-related crime happening now. So we have to protect ourselves first before we could protect the public,” he added.
Grace explained that police officers have to be retrained every year in order to qualify to carry arms.
The PAB leader revealed that the association has already held discussions with the top brass of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) on the whole issue of protection for police.
Also at the top of the agenda for 2019 are conditions of service including pay.
“Basically the priorities for the New Year would be looking again at the conditions of service going forward; remuneration especially for the amount of work that is being done, as far as I am concerned for free at this point. Police are grossly under paid and that is one of the major things we would be looking at,” the police association spokesman told Barbados TODAY.
Grace said the organization’s executive will also be pushing for allowances to be paid for “the different things they [police] are required to do, which are not being done by the regular public service.”
“What is being paid to police now is a slap in the face for the dangers that we have to face. And I think the senior command team and the Government of Barbados recognize that; but everything takes a little time,” he admitted.
Expressing grave worry about the physical facilities in which officers have to function, he disclosed that this matter would also be high on the list of matters to be discussed with the authorities.
“We will also be looking at police buildings, accommodation . . . some are very, very, dilapidated. All of them need rectifying. You are aware that they just built a new station at Cane Garden. The police never went in and it has been handed over the Supreme Court. The policemen who are supposed to be in there are in a building where they are inhaling smoke every single day,” he lamented.
Grace identified that accommodation as the police station at Holetown, St James.
“Holetown Police Station is a mess. Cane Garden was supposed to house District ‘D’ to get them out of the squalor that they are in and yet they are in squalor [while] a brand new building has been handed over to another entity. They are hoping the same thing does not happen to Hastings and Worthing,” the Police Association president declared.
He noted that the senior police command team was already onboard with them, but that it was now for the Government to follow suit.