A former high-ranking police officer has called Government to provide the Royal Barbados Police Force with the resources to expand community policing, in a bid to restore trust in the police.
The suggestion comes amid research that shows a breakdown in trust between police and civilians in a number of communities thought to be crime hotspots.
The head of Crime Stoppers Oral Reid, who was once a deputy commander of community policing, told Barbados TODAY that community outreach has always been pivotal to the bond between police and civilians.
With the police top brass complaint of being about 200 officers short, Reid said he was not surprised that community policing has been hamstrung, leading to a breakdown in trust.
He told Barbados TODAY: “Police across the world have to negotiate with the persons that they are trying to serve in a specific way in order to build confidence between the people and persons who are charged with enforcing law.
“In Barbados when we talk about reduced numbers of police officers, you may very well say that there is a reduced number of persons deployed as community officers.
“The Royal Barbados Police Force has maintained the community programmes over the years but you must ask the question if they deploy officers to the various communities as they should, given the fact that they are about 200 officers short.”
Reid was referring to a recent study done by criminologist Kim Ramsay and University of the West Indies researcher Dr Dwayne Devonish that revealed a lack of trust in police in six communities considered to be high-risk.
Ramsay warned that failure to mend police-community relations could result in the creation of a crime lord. She said it was in that manner that Christopher Dudus Coke rose to become one of the most powerful drug dons in Jamaica.
Reid said police were doing their best with limited resources to foster connections with as many communities as possible.
He said: “If we are to build confidence then we have to focus on how we treat to the community policing, we have to continue to engage with members of the community to the point where the problems they are facing is allowed to influence the type of policing delivered to the people.
“It must not be that the police are employing a policing strategy which is not complimentary of the concerns that persons are feeling and realizing in their community.”