Lessons learnt from the breakdown of law of order and the outbreak of chaos in Dominica have led to changes to how the Royal Barbados Police Force will respond should disaster strike here, according to Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith.
The three months of assistance rendered by the Royal Barbados Police Force to Dominica after Hurricane Maria struck two years ago, are proving useful as the force prepares for next month’s start of hurricane season, Griffith said.
The police chief said the force has gained valuable insight into what it takes to maintain law and order in the aftermath of a major hurricane and has therefore strengthened its response protocols to suit.
“We saw in the aftermath people breaking into a lot of buildings and doing a lot of looting. So, it was quite clear that coming out of that, although our plans speak to it already, we have beefed up our protocols as it relates to looting.
“So, for example, from the time the all clear is given, there are teams that will be out in their numbers looking after looting in the areas that are more prone for this type of activity.
“We recognise from the experience in Dominica that it is critical that we have these types of things in place.
“We have to also prepare for scenarios such as the prison being damaged and prisoners escaping. That is something that happened in Dominica as well.
“So, we have to make sure that we have contingencies for all these things. As a result of that experience we were able adjust areas that we had not necessarily considered when it comes to our plans in Barbados.”
The Police Commissioner made the comments as the Regional Security System (RSS) awarded medals to 14 police officers, who provided outstanding service in Dominica in the months immediately after the category four hurricane had struck.
At a ceremony held this morning at Police Headquarters in Roebuck Street, the group, led by Assistant Superintendent Christine Stanford (an inspector at the time), gave of their service under harsh living conditions and tremendous personal sacrifice.
But in an interview with Barbados TODAY, Griffith said that aside from the joy of being their brothers’ keeper, additional, dependable, battle-hardened officers with experience in disaster response, was a valuable spinoff benefit.
The Commissioner said: “The actual experience means a lot more to that group than the simulation exercises that the average officer has.
“So obviously, in the aftermath of a hurricane in Barbados, one would want to use this team upfront to lay the ground work for a response.
“They would also be able to better co-ordinate with teams coming from outside to help, having had the experience.”