As Barbados continues to look for ways to manage crime and violence, the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) could be getting some much-needed assistance from security guard professionals.
This indication came on Friday from Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Dale Marshall as he addressed the opening of the annual training seminar for the Caribbean Association of Security Professionals (CASP) at the Cave Hill School of Business and Management.
“It is no secret to anyone who lives within our shores that Barbados is especially challenged with a great deal of instability in terms of criminal activity. Every day we talk about the police, but probably there is a better chance that one of you or your colleagues are going to be on the front line of that criminal activity and the police will probably get called in afterwards,” Marshall told the audience of security officials.
“I have heard the suggestion from Mr [Oral] Reid that we really ought to think of how we can see security officers as an adjunct to the police force. That will take some doing,” he said.
This followed comments by Reid, chairman of the CASP that the 21-year-old association, which promotes the professional growth of security personnel in the region, believes private security professionals had a role to play in national security.
“We believe that enough has not been said about the role of private security in this country and across the Caribbean,” said Reid.
Zooming in on Barbados, he pointed out that the number of private security officers on the island more than doubled that of the members of the RBPF.
There are currently just over 1,500 police officers in the force, which has vacancy for another 280, while there are between 4,500 and 5,000 private security officers.
Reid, a former assistant superintendent of police, said his association was very concerned about the incidents of violence across the island and bullying in the workplace, suggesting that there be collaboration between the private security firms and the national law enforcement agencies to help in the fight against crime and violence.
“We are particularly concerned about what is happening to persons who are physically challenged,” added Reid.
The Attorney General welcomed the notion of law enforcement officers and security guard professionals working together, stating that the number of police officers in the force was simply not enough to adequately address the challenges facing the country.
However, he indicated that it would require a change in policy or legislation.
“So long as the level of training that you receive is commensurate with the level of training that the members of the police force and their allied agencies receive, I can see no reason why you should not be treated as a law enforcement professional, but of course, standards will determine how that particular exercise is rolled out,” said Marshall, who indicated his willingness to meet with officials of CASP.
Marshall said the island was in an “unprecedented environment in terms of homicides” and government was looking closely to see what is happening in other countries and regions that could be employed locally.
“I have never taken any comfort from the fact that we are not as bad as Jamaica or we are not as bad as Trinidad. What I know is that we are worse than we used to be 10 or 20 years ago. That is how I measure how we are in Barbados. Our greatest responsibility is to secure our citizens and you play an absolutely pivotal role in that and I pledge you my support,” Marshall told the security officers.
Using the planned UNCTAD meeting scheduled to take place in Barbados next year as an example of the need for more security personnel, Marshall said with as many as 6,000 delegates expected here, the RBPF and the Barbados Defence Force combined “will be stretched to the maximum”. [email protected]