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‘Ill-treated’ by hands of the law

marciadottin, [email protected]

‘Ill-treated’ by hands  of the law

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A young man has complained that he was humiliated and his character tarnished by a “blatant act of discrimination” by officers of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF).Rommel Parris, a 25-year-old clerical officer with the Barbados Water Authority, claimed he was disrespected on the evening of Monday, July 26, when his vehicle was pulled over and searched on Wellington Street, The City.  Parris said: “I had just turned onto the road between 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., when the police vehicle, registration S703, passed going in the other direction.  “When I got about 15 feet from the junction at River Road, I heard the police siren, so I pulled over to let them pass, not knowing that they meant me,” he said.According to Parris, at that point five plainclothes officers approached his vehicle and ordered him to put his hands on the steering wheel, turn off the ignition and not to move. The other three occupants of the car were asked to exit the car first while Parris was told to exit slowly while keeping his hands on the steering wheel.  Parris said the officers did not identify themselves by name or rank or in any other way. “I asked the officers what was the reason for the search, to which I got no reply.” The episode lasted 15 to 20 minutes, Parris said. “By then there was a crowd of almost 50 people starting to converge, which caused me a great measure of embarrassment. “I told the officers I would make a formal complaint, then one officer proceeded to give me directions to District “A” Police Station, then got in the vehicle and left,” Parris said.According to Parris, when he visited the District “A” Station the same officers who conducted the search were there. He added that one of those officers told the officer sitting at the front desk “Deal wid he, deal wid he, he got a complaint for you.”Parris said after that he was sent to several different departments,where other officers refused to give their names. Finally, he said, he went to Central Police Station where the sergeant in charge, who also did not give his name, took his complaint. He met with Sergeant Cossey and also complained about the manner this lawman dealt with him.“He took my complaint and told me to deal with OPR [the Office of Professional Responsibility] in the morning,” Parris said.Parris said an Inspector Beckles explained that the process of investigating the complaint could take “between two to three months and three to four years”.  The clerk was further advised that he could take the matter to court privately to seek redress for the embarrassment and “defamation of character”. Parris, who lives at Worthing View, Christ Church, said he did not smoke or drink and never had any“run-ins” with the law.  He added that he believed the treatment was meted out to him because of his dreadlocked hairstyle.He has contacted his attorney to take the matter further. Inspector David Welch, of the Community and Public Relations Department of the RBPF, said he was not aware of the situation, but if Parris had made an official complaint, then an internal investigation would have started.  He added that he would not wish to compromise the investigation by speaking on it at that point since Parris had already indicated that he would be seeking legal redress.“If he believes he was in any way wronged by the actions of the police officers, he has the right to have the matter investigated,” Welch said.When contacted on Thursday, Parris said that despite several calls to the RBPF he was still unable to get any additional information from the police regarding the issue. “My lawyer called today (Thursday) and they refused to give him any information as well,” Parris said. (LK)