The Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) continues to experience an acute manpower shortage, Deputy Commissioner of Police Erwin Boyce said Monday, as he suggested its pay and benefits packages may be turning off young people contemplating a career in law enforcement.
Boyce told journalists at a Regional Police Training Centre event that the force needs at least 279 more men and women to make up its full complement.
One of the issues the RBPF is experiencing in attracting new members is that the “dollars and cents” are not attractive enough for the level of perception of danger and personal sacrifice that officers are expected to make in the line of duty.
He said: “As a police officer there is a tremendous amount of sacrifice that you have to make because you sleep and I am up. You party, I am up. There is so much sacrifice that is involved that people look to equate that with how much dollars and cents is there for me.
“How does it compare with other organizations within the island, and then secondly, with law enforcement in other smaller jurisdictions? So, this is something that we have to look at and I know that we have negotiating teams as it relates to looking at benefits and welfare issues within the force so that it becomes a very attractive organization. So that you will be saying to yourself, I missed something by not being a police officer.”
The police second-in-command sought to give assurances that the police high command has made a significant effort in recruiting new officers but said that it must be appreciated that the screening of applicants is a critical aspect of the recruitment process which cannot be rushed.
Boyce said: “So those checks must be forwarded in a way that is acceptable to the recruiting committee. And we do get applications, but at the same time, sometimes the suitability is not there for whatever reason. If there is one thing about recruiting is, recruiting is not seasonal.
“The Training Centre might be seasonable in terms of running courses, but the recruiting agenda is constantly there because we get applications, I can’t say every day, but we get applications regularly. So every time we get an application there is a process involved, we take you through a number of processes including polygraphing, and all that is part and parcel of the recruiting agenda.
“So, from where we sit the shortage remains acute. We have been creative in designing policing strategies with the numbers that we have given the dynamics of the society. At the same time we continue to reach into the community to see who has that profound interest and who is suitable to be a member of the Royal Barbados Police Force.”
The Deputy Commissioner of Police said that while some claim that the recruitment process is too strict, citizens must ask themselves whether or not they want a police officer who has integrity and a good image and is not involved in bad conduct.