Prison authorities will be launching an investigation into the behaviour of a prison officer who is currently in quarantine at a south coast hotel awaiting his COVID-19 test results.
Reports reaching Barbados TODAY claimed that the officer had attempted to take his own life but this was refuted by an inside source at the property.
The source said the prison officer went on to his balcony and loudly expressed his frustration at the length of time he was being kept in quarantine.
“He said he felt like he was going out of his mind. Yes, he was being loud and boisterous about what we are going through, but he never attempted to jump. Some guests saw him and called the police,” said a fellow prison officer who is also in quarantine.
Police confirmed that they were called in to investigate the incident.
“Police were called in today to Sunbay in response to a report of a prison officer who was behaving boisterously. Police carried out investigations into the matter and the prison authorities, I believe, would be in better position to say what they did, rather than what the police did,” Acting Police Public Relations Officer Michael Blackman said this evening.
When Barbados TODAY reached out to Prison Superintendent Lieutenant Colonel John Nurse – who is in quarantine – he confirmed the incident.
“I was made aware of it. Of course, the matter will be investigated when I am in a better position to do so. So I guess we just have to wait out on that,” Nurse said.
The prison boss also rejected reports that the officer was warded in the Psychiatric section of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH).
This development followed yesterday’s revelation by Industrial Relations Advisor to the Prison Officers Association of Barbados Senator Caswell Franklyn, that three prison officers who are in quarantine at the south coast hotel would be suing the Government over their continued “detention.”
Franklyn, who is also president of the Unity Trade Union (UTU) had given Government until today to release the officers whom he claimed had already received two negative COVID-19 tests and should therefore be allowed to leave.
Today, the Opposition Senator told Barbados TODAY that the lawsuit will be filed tomorrow because the men were still being held in quarantine.
“We will take action tomorrow,” he declared.
But Minister of Home Affairs Wilfred Abrahams rebuffed those claims concerning the tests results..
“All of the prison officers going into quarantine were tested upon entering quarantine. All of those in quarantine were given a second test, the results of which we are awaiting. I am not aware that anyone has received their results of their second test while in the controlled environment of quarantine,” he said then.
“As soon as the second test results become available, we will let the officers know and activate the protocol for their reintegration into the system. It is in our interest to get these results as quickly as possible so that the officers currently in quarantine can provide some relief for those who have been consistently on shift at Her Majesty’s Prison Dodds since notification of the positive results at the prison,” the minister stated.
Meanwhile, other prison officers in quarantine at the Hilton Hotel reached out to Barbados TODAY to have their frustrations brought to the public’s attention.
One officer who spoke on behalf of his colleagues and on condition of anonymity for fear of victimization, said he along with a number of other prison officers had been on quarantine since December 31, had tested negative, been retested and to date had received no further word from authorities.
“We get our second test last week Tuesday and we were told we would hear something in 24 hours. This is more than 24 hours and no one has returned to say anything to us and people want to get home to their families. We are prison officers but we are like prisoners here under confinement with no one saying anything to us about when our results will come back,” he said, adding there were about 70 prison officers at Hilton Hotel under quarantine.
He also revealed that police officers had been quarantined at the Hilton Hotel after them and had already been cleared and had left. He noted the uncertainty and confinement had them stressed out and feeling as though they were losing their minds.
“It is not only affecting us. It is affecting our colleagues at Dodds. They are working 14-hour shifts and more. They cannot leave and, in many instances, some have to sleep in their cars or in areas on the floor because the facility is not designed to accommodate prison officers in these circumstances in such numbers. And they cannot leave on their own because there are soldiers posted on the outside of the prison. We appreciate the situation that we are living in but our rights do not disappear because there is a virus. We have been tested, give us the results and once we are cleared, let us go home,” he said. ([email protected])