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Ex-cops celebrate


shadiasimpson, [email protected]

Ex-cops celebrate

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It was an obvious attempt to allay people’s fears and concerns about crime.
“Let me assure you that despite the very latest events which have unfolded over the last few days, the Government initiatives to reduce and control crime in our land are paying dividends,”Adriel Brathwaite, Barbados’ Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, told about 200 Barbadians, many of them former police officers in the island who now call New York their home away from home.
Although Brathwaite didn’t pinpoint the “events” he had in mind, many of the Bajans attending the 50th anniversary gala of the Barbadian Ex-Police Association at the El Caribe Country Club in Brooklyn were convinced that he was referring to the abrupt dismissal of Police Commissioner Darwin Dottin. It was an action that split the Barbadian community, with some insisting the removal was a long time coming given the rise in crime and reports of dissension in the ranks, while others wondered if the removal wasn’t politically motivated.
The Ex-Police Association, founded in 1963 by the late Wilfred Best, is a highly regarded body in the Caribbean immigrant community, especially among former police officers from across the Caribbean, elected officials, private firms and law enforcement agencies in the city.
“New Yorkers of every belief and background are known for their generosity and desire to give back,” said Michael Bloomberg, the city’s mayor, in a letter to the association. “For 50 years, the Barbadian Ex-Police Association has exemplified this spirit through assisting retired Barbadian law enforcement officers in need and providing scholarships to young Barbadian New Yorkers.”
Brooklyn Borough president Marty Markowitz agreed.
“The association, which is perhaps the oldest active Barbadian organization in the United States, has done much more than work with former police,” said Markowitz.
“They have provided equipment, including a dialysis machine at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, adopted two schools in Barbados and Brooklyn, and much more.”
American congresswoman Yvette Clarke praised the group for its commitment to social development, saying that “through the hard work and dedication of its [Ex-Police] membership body, hundreds of children in the United States, Barbados and elsewhere have the opportunity to pursue higher education.”
Sir Elliott Belgrave, Barbados’ Governor General, said in a message to the former cops that he was “satisfied beyond doubt” that the reason the organization “has succeeded and flourished as it has done is due to the fact that it was erected on a foundation that was solid and well thought out”.
In a relatively short address, the Attorney General showered praise on the association, which is led by president Malcolm Best, Michael Roett, Mitchell Franklin, Anthony Hall and Terrence Cumberbatch.
Brathwaite hailed the group for its “hard workand dedication” which had brought untold benefits to Barbadians and other West Indians.
“There is no doubt that your altruism and philanthropic spirit has contributed to your longevity,” he said.
Yes, he added, “there had been a slight increase in crime [in Barbados] such as burglary and robbery due mainly to the cash-for-gold trade” but the Government was working “assiduously” to deal with the situation. In addition, he pointed out that joint action by security forces had resulted in the “discovery and removal” of marijuana plants.
“These manoeuvres have hit the drug dealers where it hurts the most: in their pockets. The force has also stepped up its efforts to ensure that crime against tourists is reduced considerably.
“We are aware that if we do not keep the lid on crime, we will all suffer untold consequences.”
As for the economic picture, he said Barbados hadn’t been spared “the ravages” of the global recession but pointed out that “within the next 18 months”, Government would be building new state-of-the-art police stations to replace existing facilities in Belleplaine in St Andrew, Hastings and Worthing in Christ Church, while erecting a new unit at Cane Garden, St Thomas.
Ben Hall, who leads the Barbados Ex-Police Association in Bridgetown, said that the New York organization had become a major institution noted for its interest in Barbados’ development and Barbadians living abroad.
Several long-standing members of the association were honoured at the gala:
• Terence Holder, a cop in Barbados for 13 years before emigrating in 1981;
• Arthur Edey, who served for a decade and then made the United States his home;
• Joyce Hall who, although she wasn’t a member of the force back home, was singled out for praise for her active involvement in the association and the support she gave her husband who belongs to the body; and
• Michael “Smokey” Roett, a former president of the association and currently a music teacher in New York City public schools.
“Like any great organization, you have enjoyed a feast of astute and capable leadership,” said Lennox Price, Barbados’ Consul General to New York.
 

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