I CONFESS – Police must show more respect
THE?POLICE in this country show little respect for poor people.
I say that boldly and dare anyone in officialdom to contradict me.
If a poor person gets into anything in this country they have to pray to God that when the truth comes out it is believed by the police – otherwise the odds are stacked up against them as they have no means of getting a good lawyer or even bail so that they could at least work and save money until their trial.
It hurts me when I read in the court pages of the newspaper how long some people were on bail before their cases started. They remained locked away because they have no one with the means to help them, while others who are charged with similar offences are released on bail, because they do.
But the thing that really galls me about the justice system is the way in which a lot of police officers treat poor people. You would think that their attitude would be different as a lot of them come from similar circumstances.
But no – many policemen and policewomen talk down to you. It is as if they want you to feel insignificant before them. Many of them do not listen to you, and when you get frustrated at not being able to speak your mind freely, they get an attitude and begin to treat you like if you are the criminal, when you are in fact the victim.
I used to hear about these type of things all the time, but only realised it when it happened to me. Though my incident happened years ago, the whole episode came back to me when a friend of mine was treated disrespectfully by the police after she was involved in a car accident that she did not even cause.
I can’t give details about her case because it is heading to court, but what I can tell you about is the attitude of the police who came to the scene.
Imagine these two officers came on the scene and saw a woman crying and being comforted by two others next to a badly damaged car, while two men stood talking by the other vehicle. Without saying “Good evening” or anything, one asked roughly, “Who driving these cars? Come now!”
The fellow who caused the accident went, but the woman was still crying, so she did not move immediately. So the same policeman said, “She don’t look hurt, what she crying for?”
We then tried to explain everything to him on our friend’s behalf, but he had an attitude and said she had to talk for herself.
His behaviour was insensitive and rude. My friend was in shock and needed support, not ridicule.
As I said, that incident is heading for the courts so I wouldn’t say any more, but my case was somewhat similar. The police came on the scene at my house, where there was an attempted break-in. The fellow didn’t get anything as my neighbour saw him and shouted at him before calling the police.
So the man took off without actually getting inside the house.
But when the two policemen came, one looked around my house and asked me what I did to have so much and still afford my own house. Can you imagine that?
He also wanted to know if I had a man, since I was not married.
With that I told both of them to get out of my house because one was being disrespectful and the other just had a grin on his face. He never once told his partner that he was out of line.
If I was white or an Indian, or I was some doctor or lawyer, they would never have talked down to me so. But as far as they knew I worked in an ordinary job and got regular pay – in other words, a poor black woman – I could not get what I have by hard work; some man had to give me.
If they knew anything about me they would realise that hard work, a good education, personal sacrifice, discipline and the right attitude can bring wealth, even in Barbados.
What really shocked me, though, was when I told people about it, and said that I was going to report them. Everyone told me that would be a waste of time as nothing would come out of it. They then related stories about other single women having bad experiences with police.
I know it is never right to judge an entire group of people by what a few may do. But I have no choice as I keep hearing similar stories about bad attitudes and insensitive remarks.
I think that the bosses in the Police Force need to do something about training their people so they would be more respectful to the public, and be willing to discipline those who have been pointed out as perpetuating this behaviour.