Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley has come out in opposition to the appointment of former police chief Darwin Dottin as crime consultant to Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith, warning that the pick could embolden the criminal element.
Atherley said there is already a public perception of a fracture within the ranks of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) which goes back several years when a number of officers felt they were overlooked for promotion during Dottin’s leadership.
He suggested that Dottin’s return could create the belief that the RBPF’s administration was too weak to take the fight to criminals.
“We don’t want to have questions raised as to whether or not the Government considers the administration of the force to be inadequate. You certainly don’t want the criminal element thinking that the administration of the force is inadequate,” the Opposition Leader told Barbados TODAY.
“There is already a perception in the public of a fracture in the police force going back to that moment in time when there was a question of promotions; the internal wrangling with several officers having to take the matter to court. Because of the politics which played out around those issues, there is that perception that there is a fracture in the force,” he said, adding that nothing must be done to worsen the fracture, if one existed or to strengthen such a perception.
Atherley is therefore cautioning the Government to be “very” careful at this critical time in relation to the former COP’s appointment.
“Mr Dottin would have been relieved of his responsibilities in the force in a context, around which there has been much political controversy. I just question the advisability, bearing in mind what happened before, you are bringing back Mr Dottin into that situation. You don’t want to have political controversy at a time when the Government has it hands full in trying to wrestle this crime situation to the ground,” he argued.
Atherley is of the view that if the authorities are to properly manage the serious crime and violence, the law enforcement agency must not only be in a position to do so, but be seen in that light.
Atherley said: “We are trying to face down a serious criminal element. We need to have a situation where the police force is being perceived as adequate to the task. If you are not careful as to the role you assign to Mr Dottin, if you are not careful to explain to the public and indeed to the force and the administration of the force specifically what the role is, the criminal element could feel embolden, because they could perceive some disruptive dynamics operating around the police force at this time.”
The Opposition Leader went further, cautioning that if members of the police force are not themselves clear as to exactly why Dottin is back, it could compromise the constabulary’s morale and ultimately its performance.
Atherley is therefore calling on the Government to come clean on the appointment, made by Prime Minister Mia Mottley.
The Opposition Leader said: “Government first of all has to better clarify what would be the role of the former commissioner; the real and specific role that he is being brought back to the situation to perform. What is the nature of his appointment? I think Government needs to clarify for public interest.”
Almost two weeks ago, Prime Minister Mottley told journalists at a news conference at the Parliament Buildings that Government would allow Dottin to lend his “skills” in the crime fight.
While she did not elaborate, Attorney General Dale Marshall later explained that Dottin would be advising Commissioner Griffith on crime matters.
Dottin was sent on administrative leave during the previous Democratic Labour Party administration’s tenure amid allegations of illegal wiretapping by police, which Dottin has denied.