Posted on

EDITORIAL: Solutions for RBPF should target future

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Solutions for RBPF should target future

Social Share

The events which have befallen the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) of late are worrisome in the extreme. The RBPF, which has had a reputation for integrity as a highly disciplined and united force of men and women dedicated to serve and protect, now seems mired in controversy after controversy.
It cannot be a happy development for right-thinking members of the public; nor for those retired officers who so proudly wore the uniform in times past; nor, indeed, for serving officers.
It was bad enough to have some officers taking their concerns about the integrity of the promotions process and procedures before the law courts and for them to intervene in a process which is far more suited to those involved more intimately with the operational aspects of the force than with the reinforcement of laws.
But the spectre of the Commissioner of Police fighting legal battles with the Police Services Commission in the courts, challenging his being sent on administrative leave, is a mark against the office of commissioner which will affect the morale of the force, no matter what the outcome of the legal challenge. And we cannot forget that the acting Deputy Commissioner also has his own lawsuit challenging the process of choosing a substantive holder for the post. One wonders how things got so low!
The reality is that all is not well within the force, to put it mildly, and that any solutions must be geared to dealing with the current problem as well as laying down landmarks for the future.
The suggestion by Independent Senator Dr Trevor Carmichael, former chairman of the PSC, that the force needs an internal ombudsman is one that needs serious attention. Matters reach the law courts, generally speaking, when relations between the contesting parties have become so acrimonious that neither accepts what the other is saying.
The current dispute suggests that some kind of management training may be necessary for all gazetted officers because it is an awesome responsibility to occupy one of the major police offices and have to manage men and equipment in a pressure-house atmosphere.
The retirement of Deputy Commissioner Bertie Hinds last year was, we thought, a signal that things were about to achieve some normality, but the aggressively abrupt manner in which Commissioner Darwin Dottin has been treated, resulting in his being sent on immediate administrative leave, suggests that the problems of the force and the commissioner’s relationship with the PSC may have run far deeper than we at first thought possible.
Such action was unprecedented, and it was all the more disturbing because it has spawned the speculation about what could have gone wrong in a disciplined force which has maintained law and order for such a long time and of which the vast majority of Barbadians were justly proud.
That having been said, and against a wall of silence, the treatment meted out to Mr Dottin was unnecessarily draconian, and must never be repeated against those who serve in public office, or indeed in private office.
The good reputation of a public institution with coercive powers may take a lifetime to be achieved, but can be seriously damaged by a single letter. We fear that may be the case here.