EDITORIAL: RBPF in need of an overhaul
THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN Barbados is experiencing means there are fewer jobs available for those not willing to take a risk and become entrepreneurs. It is therefore a good time for employers looking to recruit new talent, and this should also apply to the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBFP).
This is why recent comments by Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite on the need to retain highly trained lawmen are significant. While law enforcement is a well regarded and honoured profession, it is not one to which the brightest and the best eagerly gravitate. Indeed, it has generally ranked low in the occupations of choice. The RBPF’s recruitment challenges in recent years tell the story.
We recognize law enforcement ensures some measure of job security, which presents an opportunity for the RBPF in this environment. However, the police department needs to revisit its recruitment methods when seeking to fill existing vacancies. It must target those with associate and undergraduate degrees.
Some things about policing will not change. Policemen are often exposed to the worst in human behaviour in a 24/7/365 job that can negatively impact family and personal life. These things can influence whether or not one applies to the RBPF.
A number of things must therefore be done to enhance the reputation of the occupation. Salaries must be competitive at entry level and indeed at all other levels within the department. And it must change its image of being a male-dominated job requiring brute force. Women make up the majority of the population but are underrepresented in the police department. There must be good mentorship, strong support from senior officers and a clear career development path for those choosing this profession.
The tradition that a police officer must be seen and treated the same way as any other public officer should be addressed since they are in no way like other civil servants. The issue of a qualifications bar must also be addressed since we all know that the skills, fearlessness, determination and expertise of a good policeman cannot be based only on certification.
The RBPF, like many other institutions in Barbados, is in need of an overhaul and this may be the moment. A policeman today must be as skilled with the technology as he must with problem-solving and the ability to interact and communicate in an ever changing society. Performance can no longer be based primarily on arrests.
The RBPF must prepare for a new generation of recruits. It must outline new and varied opportunities that go far beyond the benefits, public service and security it offers. It must recruit people who are first and foremost eager to help others and want to serve their community. The RBPF must have only the very best if it is to provide the exceptional service expected of it.