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EDITORIAL: Police should have apologised

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Police should have apologised

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Law enforcement is too important an activity in this society for civilians not to take it seriously and be fully on board as critical stakeholders.
By the same token, the duties and responsibilities imposed on the actual practitioners in law enforcement, particularly members of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF), are even greater.
Every member of this society, whether a citizen or temporary resident, has a duty to ensure that by his or her conduct, he or she is giving full support to the issues that contribute to the maintenance of law and order.
We make the above statements because it has to be understood by all that when by our conduct we, as private citizens, whittle down respect for law and order the safety of every citizen is threatened. When members of the RBPF do the same, the threat is compounded.
We are, therefore, horrified by the almost flippant response of the RBPF to the complaint of the Lashley family of Edge Cliff, Princess Royal Avenue, Pinelands, St Michael, last Wednesday morning.
Matriarch Elsie Lashley spoke of lawmen barging through a window and entering her home to execute a search warrant, upturning furniture and strewing clothing across the floor, damaging a computer and taking away her son, only to discover he was not the person named on the warrant. They were actually at the wrong house. Later in the day, she said, they returned him to the home without so much as an apology.
Technically, the police did not dispute anything Lashley said.
She said they barged in using an open window as the preferred point of entry. The police said the warrant was executed within the policy of the RBPF.
She charged they never showed a warrant and she only saw one when a copy dropped from one of the searching detectives. The police said they acted professionally and the warrant was handed to the son.
She said they arrested and took away her son. They said he went with them voluntarily.
She said when they finally conceded they had the wrong person they just dropped him off outside the house. The police said they returned him home without complaint.
We’re sorry, Mr Commissioner of Police, but we are not impressed with the response. Like any other category of worker, lawmen will make mistakes from time to time – it’s all part of being human – but it’s how we respond to our mistakes that often compound things.
Instead of the usual “we followed policy” response, a visit and verbal apology from a divisional leader or some senior officer would have done far more to guarantee future good relations with this household – people who had never had a run-in with the law. A hand of compassion and a sense of empathy can go a long way, Mr Commissioner!