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GUEST COLUMN – Pride and prejudice

Leonard St Hill

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As a registered expatriate citizen of Barbados since 1972 eight years after taking up lawful residence, I have never been intimidated by the xenophobia of natives in expressing my concern for the welfare of the community which I inhabit.Always with the greatest respect for the opinions of others I write or speak neither to praise nor bury Caesar, but to publish what I know. I had the privilege of growing up in St Lucia under British colonial rule and a system of education and police protection that was genuinely colonial. Neither ignorance nor crime could be blamed on headmasters (among whom were Barbadian Methodists and Anglicans, Englishmen, and Provincial Roman Catholic priests) or commissioners of police who were expatriates, including Bajans.Suppression of crime was achieved by the influence of education and religion on a work ethic that never took reward for granted. No child was indoctrinated in those days with modern ideas of being automatic “leaders of the future”.They were taught how to follow first in order to learn the intricacies involved in leadership, which put diligent responsibility before anticipation of the enjoyment of the privilege of rank.Paradoxically, the best slave became the better master. Natura non saltat (there is no quantum leap in natural growth): The acquisition of the knowledge of the ability to lead is a gradual process which includes random natural selection.The notion that the commission of crimes in neighbouring territories increased as a result of the appointment there of foreign chiefs of police spuriously ignores the nexus between cause and effect, or which came first – escalating crime or corruption within the local force, or the appointment of foreign chiefs?In relatively small communities, including Barbados, impartiality and efficiency of the police is best assured by avoiding occasions for conflict of interest that arises from the intimacy of blood and other passionate relationships between policemen and those whom they would protect and serve.On the other hand, the most effective means of teaching the constabulary how to cope with criminals repatriated from abroad is instruction from one or many who are most familiar with detection and prevention of the felonious Modus Operandi employed “over there”. It would be instructive to compare the products of a genuine regional police training school with those of any exclusive territorial establishment in the Eastern Caribbean.All things being equal (which seldom they are), the best native should not be frustrated in his ambition to reach the top post in his career anywhere, which is as likely to be at home as abroad: But where it is acknowledged that the best are not among the recruits locally, how can we be certain that the worst will not eventually emerge at the top of ladder by automatic promotion?Self-regulation of any establishment fighting crime and temptation by corruption at the same time should be avoided if at all possible. • This article was submitted as a letter to the Editor. 

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