House of Assembly Parliamentarians on Tuesday lent their support to the appointment of a second Deputy Commissioner of Police, suggesting that policing should now be seen as a “business” and that the police need to be on top of their game as criminals become more sophisticated.
Christ Church East MP Wilfred Abrahams said: “We have to see the Royal Barbados Police Force as more than just another Government department, but as a business with the great responsibility of maintaining law and order. Therefore, we must make its structure more relevant to modern times, which may mean adding other deputies or new ranks within the force. We cannot use old methods to combat a dynamic criminal element.”
MP for The City of Bridgetown retired Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic outlined some of the changes made to the force since it was established in 1835, noting that as society changed, new departments and indeed new ranks were added or removed. The appointment of a second deputy police chief was something the force itself requested based on the crime situation in Barbados, he said, a point that was repeated by Minister of Home Affairs and MP for St James North Edmund Hinkson.
Lt Col Bostic said: “Since the 1980s, we have added the Drug Squad, the Juvenile Liaison Scheme, resident beat officers, a Financial Intelligence and Money Laundering Unit and a unit dealing with cyber-crime. The overall numbers in the force have not increased, but their responsibilities have, so a second Deputy Commissioner is a step in the right direction. And as a matter of fact, there are several other jurisdictions with two Deputy Commissioners, including Ireland, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, and closer to home, Grenada, Jamaica and Antigua and Barbuda.”
Declaring that the appointment should not be considered political, Hinkson said: “In 2016 two people were shortlisted for the post of Deputy Police Commissioner, and three weeks before the 2018 General Election, one was appointed. The second person is the one we have now appointed to this post, and despite the political speculation, we recognised his worthiness and competence as a police officer and appointed him on that basis.”
MP for St George North Gline Clarke said he wanted to see some other changes to the RBPF, including changes to the age at which people could join the force, allowing retired officers to come back on a contractual basis to deal with areas in which they might have specialised in the past and to train upcoming officers. “If the force is to be seen as a business, it should bring in accountants, lawyers and other civilians to help them, as forces in other countries have done,” he said.
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