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‘Hike police pay, toughen laws’

by Barbados Today
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As lawmakers weigh in on a murder spree gripping the nation, MP for Christ Church South Ralph Thorne today challenged Attorney General Dale Marshall to raise the pay of police officers and restore confidence in the law courts.

Declaring in Parliament that officers deserved to be considered “special”, Thorne said: “There are two institutions that have to be strengthened. Too many of us believe it is popular to demonise and criticise the police force. This country must agree to strengthen its police force and my own individual position is that police in this country need to be better paid. That is not a political statement.

“If we want a police force that is dignified and highly professional they must work out of police stations that look like places for human habitation. They must drive cars that are as efficient as other cars. They must receive incomes that reflect the importance of the work that they do.

“It matters not to me if that statement is criticised for suggesting that police officers are special. My view is that police officers are special.”

But in order to complement the work of the police force, the lawyer also called for stiffer laws to address the notable surge in violent crime, including a score of murders this year.

“We must restore confidence is our courts. This [Parliament] is an arm of the state and our sole business here is to pass law for peace, order and good governance of this country. This country has lost its peace. This country has lost its order.

“All that we have left, according to that language, is good governance. While we are a good Government the time has come urgently for the passage of law that would rid this country of this scourge. We must join with our legal institutions the police and the courts . . . . It is not beyond us to think creatively in terms of legislation.”

But the parliamentarian suggested that “hatred”, not firearms were the root of the problem of murderous gun attacks, the latest of which occurred in full view of afternoon shoppers at the nation’s biggest mall, Sheraton Centre.

Thorne said: “It is the hatred in their hearts. If they did not have firearms they would kill each other with something. It springs from souls devoid of virtue.”

Making a case for tougher criminal penalties, the QC asserted that criminals were making a mockery of the judicial system.

And he urged lawmakers to put their unprecedented single-party rule in the lower House to work to change even the supreme law of the land.

Thorne said: “It has now become folklore that every young man who draws a gun was in St Philip incarcerated a few months earlier. What ugly soap opera is that? We have the law in our hands; let us use it.

“This is a parliament with abundant numbers of this side…. We can amend this constitution and pass laws not to satisfy human rights lawyers in any part of the world but to make this place as peaceful as it was when [centenarian] Tabitha Maynard was  30 years old. We have it within our power. The time has come to bring lawful order to the country.” 

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