The peace and goodwill of the last 48 hours was indeed a welcome change from the violence that rocked several communities mere days before Christmas.
And may it continue as the year closes and well into 2019.
Most troubling, was the December 21 killing of pensioner Oscar “Nard” Hamblin who was shot in the head while drinking a beer and liming with friends during a game of dominoes in Marhill Street, The City, at a time when shoppers were out and about.
Such incidents must receive the strongest possible condemnation, for violence, of any kind, has no place in modern Barbados.
So far this year, 28 murders have been recorded, the same as last year.
And while the overall statistics may not show an increase in the number of Barbadians killed by firearms this year, the horrific nature of the recent spate of gun violence reveals a tragic truth: the proliferation of guns in our society has been, and continues to be, a major threat.
Today, Assistant Commissioner of Police with responsibility for Crime Management Eucklyn Thompson reassured Barbadians, tourists and foreign investors that his Force was still very much in control of the situation.
“We recognize there have been a few incidents. We can’t ignore that there has 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,” ACP Thompson said.
And indeed we have the evidence. There can hardly be any doubt that the Royal Barbados Police Force continues to perform above and beyond the call of duty with scarce resources to keep all of us safe.
However, we equally take note of his concerns about the shortage of manpower, which he said the RBPF is actively seeking to address with a special programme that will be shortly rolled out.
This issue, however, merits urgent attention from the Government, which admittedly is in the course of tackling myriad problems.
With the growing number of serious crimes, Barbados will need adequate police officers with the best available tools if law and order are to be maintained.
Anything less runs the risk of putting our policemen and women at a disadvantage compared to the criminals who are often more mobile, sophisticated and technologically ahead.
Moreover, more police make it easier for the Force to respond to crimes and apprehend criminals. If they’re visibly patrolling, they can also help prevent crime by deterring would-be wrongdoers.
Interestingly, Thompson said his team intends to get an even better handle on the scourge by redoubling its community policing efforts to keep the country safe, stable and secure.
It is a positive initiative, which should help to get to the root of crime, but it remains a difficult proposition if more boots are not on the ground.
Our already stretched police resources hamper the very principle of building strong partnerships.
Yet community policing is critical to any national assault on crime. It enables officers to stay on top of what is happening in trouble spots and helps to steer vulnerable youth from criminals seeking to lure them down the wrong path. Officers are in a better position to engage in preventative work by building proactive relationships with parents and youth, so they can intervene at an early stage before serious crimes are committed and lives are lost.
Barbados’ best hope at preventing crime is smart policing.
We believe there is general agreement that there are not enough police officers, not enough service vehicles, not enough equipment, not enough police stations, and not enough ancillary support.
We have to spend more on policing the country by increasing the number of police officers, vehicles and equipment; improving working conditions; and to the extent possible increasing remuneration.
No doubt all this will cost us a lot of money, but the investment is worth it.