The top brass of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) is assuring residents, tourists and foreign investors that law enforcers have the crime situation under control despite a recent spate of deadly gun violence in the island.
Assistant Commissioner of Police with responsibility for Crime Management Eucklyn Thompson said today that even though there was a shortage of manpower, the RBPF was deploying its best resources, day and night, not just to respond to crime, but to prevent it.
Thompson also said the force was moving to improve its relations with the public in order to assist in the quest to keep the country safe going into 2019. He said the constabulary would pursue efforts to keep crime at a minimum, citing community policing as key.
“Having that kind of connection with our community officers; those in our divisions having that kind of connection with people in communities to look at helping people to police themselves. So we would want to continue our focus on neighborhood watches wherever we can, to forge and foster greater relationships between people in the communities,” he told Barbados TODAY this afternoon.
He suggested that those dormant neighborhood watch groups must be reactivated, while the active ones must maintain the focus on why they were established in the first place.
Thompson contended that once residents work hand in hand with the law enforcement officers, Barbados would continue to be a safe place to live and work.
“I look forward to working with the Barbadian community . . . and I think the force in general across the divisions looks forward to working with the Barbadian community to keep our country safe, stable and secure, so that we can not only move and have peace, but that people who come to visit with us and probably potential investors can feel safe to know that this is still a place where they can be safe,” he reasoned.
With regard to the issue of a shortage of officers, the senior police administrator told Barbados TODAY the force will shortly roll out a special programme to address recruitment.
“There are some shortages . . . and we have recently taken a look at it and we are moving forward with a programme. You will soon hear what we are doing in terms of our recruitment drive; so stay tuned in that regard,” the senior police officer revealed.
Turning his attention specifically to the current state of crime, particularly the upsurge in gun violence, Thompson noted that crime was down even though some 28 murders have so far been recorded, the same as for last year.
“But crime overall has shown a decrease. You should have noted that there have been policemen on the streets by day and by night. So we are doing our part and if the public plays its part in respecting the rule of law, then we should end the year on a fairly good note, and obviously begin the same way,” he said.
“Yes, we recognize there have been a few incidents. We can’t ignore that there have been violent activity, but we have been working assiduously to keep crime to negligible proportions. I think we have done very well in the circumstances with all that has been going on in the environment [and] with all [the resources] at our disposal,” Thompson added.
In response to concerns of persons who have become brazen enough to fire off guns in crowded areas such as the incident which resulted in the death of 83-year-old Oscar “Nard” Hamblin on Marhill Street, the City, the crime chief assured that police are doing all they can to tackle these events “on the ground”.
“The thing is for the force to have people out there in the environment. We are supposed to deal with crime prevention and detection. But it is better to be in crime preventative mode than to have to respond to crime. And so, we are responding according to our mandate to the best our ability. We are not ignoring the things that are there in the environment.
“We are looking at the crime patterns and trends; we are taking careful note and we are responding to the things we are confronted with through effective planning and activity on the ground,” Thompson said.
He contended that Barbados was still a “very safe” place to be, noting that foreigners have even been singing the country’s praises in this regard.
“Barbadians need to take note that our investors, people who are our potential tourists and so on, they are saying good things about the general safety of this island and that is a great omen for us. Not that we should rest on our laurels or take the greatest comfort from that. While it is good to know that people overseas see Barbados as a good place to be; a good place to have their holidays; have relaxation and so on, we know that we have to keep working at what we have here to keep things to a minimum.”