Barbadians will have an opportunity to share with international assessors who are now seeking to determine if the local law enforcement agency should again be accredited based on its adherence to best practices.
Having last been approved by the United States-based Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc., (CALEA) in 2017, the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) is again being placed under scrutiny to see if it’s maintaining the effective use of, and compliance to, the standards representing the best practices within the industry.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Erwin Boyce told a press briefing on Friday morning that members of the public will be able to tell the assessors how they feel about the functioning of the RBPF via a dedicated telephone line on Tuesday, September 14 between 1 pm and 3 pm and then can join a meeting of the accreditation team that same day at 5 pm on the Zoom platform.
Boyce said the police force gets accredited on its ability to set and maintain globally-acceptable standards in such areas as recruitment, and relationship with members of the public.
Declining to expand on the shortcomings identified by the accreditation experts in previous years, the deputy commissioner however suggested that decades of strong leadership have focused on pushing best practices in local policing.
“I know for sure that our practices have a level of acceptance at international level. So whether it is human rights, whether it is the way we collect evidence, the way we manage evidence, the way we train our police, there is a level of acceptance at that level,” he told reporters.
Pressed further for specifics on those areas previously highlighted for improvement, the senior police official pinpointed the management of exhibits or property being held in custody as one.
“And it has more to do with the office where the property was being collected. It was a small office and there was a level of confusion in terms of storage space,” Boyce disclosed.
The deputy police commissioner said improvements have since been made to that aspect resulting in wider space, coupled with a more transparent system and accountability mechanisms. He explained that being accredited allows people to say “I feel safe, I have peace of mind in Barbados because I know that the police not only would ensure my safety, but at least would treat everybody in a way that is acceptable at international standards.”
Noting that the reaccreditation process is undertaken every four years, the deputy COP said Barbados is the only country in the Caribbean whose police force is globally accredited.
Boyce acknowledged that the members of the local constabulary are the people’s servants and therefore have to live up to their expectations in terms of how business was done and how human rights issues and core values are addressed.
“I think the interest from a public perspective in terms of crime fighting is that we want to make sure that crime fighting is done in a fair manner; that there is no discrimination; there is no police state as can be construed at times,” the deputy COP contended.
Boyce was also asked about the force’s recruitment programme and whether the administration had discovered any applicants with criminal convictions or any intending to infiltrate the law enforcement agency for ulterior motives.
He pointed to the force’s “very rigid” screening process including thorough background checks.
“You go through quite a bit in order to get into the organisation. So what I would want to say is that yes, if there are any issues, these are picked up quite early. I cannot actually give you any statistics or tell you how many persons that we have seen making applications that perhaps would have had convictions and would have had other motives to get into the organisation, but I can tell you they are weeded out at a very early stage, if there are such persons,” the senior police officer stated.
Boyce also denied claims by some members of the public that police officers act with a “heavy hand” when they carry out an arrest.
He said an officer has to make certain judgment calls in the circumstances of an arrest.
“I can’t say to you that there is a heavy handedness. There is officers’ safety; there is the safety of persons around and there is also the safety of the individual who is being arrested. So I would not agree that there is a heavy handedness in that regard,” the deputy COP contended. (EJ)