Former Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite is backing Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn’s idea of converting soldiers into police officers in order to fill the current shortage in the constabulary.
At the same time, Brathwaite is echoing Franklyn’s recent suggestion that whichever Barbados Defence Force (BDF) soldiers were chosen, they would have to be retrained as police officers.
“The training is different . . . and we have to be very careful that we don’t do that carte blanche. The training of a soldier is completely different to that of a police officer,” the former Attorney General told Barbados TODAY.
He recalled that his former Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration had discussed how it could have one platform of training, so it would be easy for someone to transition from one organization to the other.
“It might be easier for a police to transition to the Defence Force at a particular senior level. But at the junior level, you are talking different types of training; and I don’t think it would be in the best interest of Barbados for us to automatically go in that direction,” he warned.
“Certainly you would have to do some retraining in terms of the soldiers,” the former AG added.
He said it was for that reason the soldiers always accompanied the police whenever it came to policing duties and they were utilised.
In putting forward the idea as a crime-fighting tool nearly three weeks ago, the Opposition senator and trade union leader told Barbados TODAY it made no sense spending more than $60 million in taxpayers money every year on an army that was not necessary in its present form.
“The police force needs manpower. Crime is escalating and you ain’t got no more police. Right now we have a totally useless defence force that is not necessary. I am not saying send them all home. I am saying, redeploy them…just use the Defence Force as it used to be in the past . . . when it was the Barbados Regiment . . . for ceremonial occasions. Right now they are spending $60 something million dollars on the Defence Force a year,” Franklyn said.
He said the fact that twice a year the Governor General signs an order allowing the army to assist the police, meant there was need for additional law enforcers.
“Deploy them as police officers and let them do some useful work, rather than keeping them up there drilling and tending their uniform and shining their boots. They are not serving any useful purpose right now. There is no need for them,” the senator declared.
“The Defence Force needs to be downsized. Some of those people can be made police officers with the necessary training and that will help with the crime situation,” he stressed.