Photo Credit: Barbados Today
The Fourth Estate plays a critical role to the proper functioning of a democracy, it must. Providing citizens with information which equips them to make the best decisions and at the same time act as a watchdog targeting those who act as gatekeepers of authority and influence in our society. Any attempt to sanitize, filter, manipulate information which it feeds to the public must be rejected as a fourth estate reneging on its obligation. The consequence is a compromised democracy.
In Barbados the media [fourth estate] is heavily self-censored. With the exception of a couple media practitioners there is a lack of respect for the profession by the decisionmakers and general public. It is fair to suggest that media workers demonstrate a lack of respect for themselves if we are to judge their inability to promote a vibrant union or association. The Barbados Association of Journalists (BAJ) does not even have an official website or Facebook presence in 2013 such is the inadequacy of how media workers see themselves.
Related Link: Statement issued by Assistant Commissioner of Police (ag) Crime, Lionel M. Thompson
Former Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin
The top story of the week stoked by the local media is that a newspaper snagged a video which was circulating on Facebook for over a month and posted a blurred image of two teens having sex in a classroom full in the knowledge they were being video recorded. BU has no doubt the public outcry provoked by this incident like all the others before will pass with nothing material done to address the factors at the root of juvenile and parental delinquency in our society. It must be said that the newspaper at the centre of the incident must have experienced a spike in sales.
This is one week since the Police Service Commission Report to Retire Commissioner Darwin Dottin was released by BU and ignored by traditional media. How can anyone take the local media and the bevy of talk show hosts seriously when in one breath they pontificate about the moral issue emanating from the sex video, and rightly so, but ignore an issue which attacks a key plank in our governance system. What separates Barbados from the rest has been our ability to maintain law and order on our little island. Despite all of our challenges Barbadians have always prided themselves in being a peaceful and law abiding nation.
While Barbados was consumed this week by the sex video saga the global media reacted to news that the USA (Big Brother) hacked the phones of prominent persons across the globe. All part of adhering to national security. And in Britain there was the news that the long awaited trial of Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson is set to begin, a case where two journalists are alleged to have hacked the phone records of members of parliament, members of the royal family and others – Phone hacking: Court told of tabloids’ ‘decade of deceit.
All too often, we see our children in the news. Whether rape, theft or murder, we see too many of our future generation making headlines for all the wrong reasons. We have to now look at ways to reverse the growing trend of youth crime and violence. And, peace education is one of the best ways to resolve and reduce these crimes. Informed learning can provide alternatives to resolve social conflicts within our society. Many young persons may not have the ability to know the difference between crime and its effects on the community, the society and the self. But if clearly demonstrated, they can be taught and in turn, encourage a positive message amongst their peers.
President of the Caribbean Mentorship Institute, Felicia Browne notes that “the past few weeks, and in the last 24 hours we have witnessed a rising trend of violence amongst our youths. There are deep fundamental questions that must be investigated to provide the best solutions to their problems. However, crime-prevention education and conflict interventions can alleviate some of these existing problems. The growing concerns of youth advocates are the age groups and genders of these victims. The victims of violence crimes have little or no social assistance to resolve their problems. For instance, we are observing a trend in young males being victims of violent crimes- some of which are or have been done by either a family member, friend within their circle or someone within their communities.”
Mia Mottley, Opposition Leader
Former Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin
Assistant Superintendent met with the Commission on 22 July, 2011. She gave an account of a meeting she attended with Commissioner of Police and Inspector Anderson Bowen, during which meeting the Commissioner manipulated his laptop computer and played a recording of a telephone conversation between Inspector Bowen and another person…
(Extracted from the Police Service Commission Recommendation of Retirement of the Commissioner of Police)
The passing of Inspector Anderson Bowen has given reason for pause in the BU household. While many may remember his exploits to capture the fiercest criminal, BU will always remember him for daring to challenge Commissioner Darwin Dottin in 2005 and as a consequence suffer uncalled for indignity before his peers when he was disciplined in 2007. Although he was reinstated by the Police Service Commission in 2010, his career had been effectively derailed by Dottin.
Barbados is becoming like a war zone, with reports of shootings almost everyday by reckless and underemployed young men (they are almost always men). It is now taking on the characteristics of West Kingston in the mid-1970s when a surplus of arms fuelled the resentment of gangsters affiliated to the two dominant political parties. This aspect of Caribbean shootings has not yet raised its ugly head in Barbados, nor has the savagery of the murderous gangsters in Trinidad, although the choke and rob muggers of Guyana has been adopted by some Barbadian youths. In all this, the apparatus of law and order seems helpless, apart from a demand to better arm the policy and the unopposed willingness to put the Defence force on the streets and parading some of the West Coast beaches. It is a development that will eventually end in tears.
Crime and punishment is one of those subjects that have been raising people’s blood pressure since Adam and Eve. From the church to every man and woman at the street corner, we all have explanations for the break down in law and order. Those opposed to the drift in to a more repressive society (see: Stuart Hall: Drifting in to a Law and Order Society) are frequently forced to ask: whose law, what order. However, crime causation is the issue that pre-occupies most criminologists and criminal justice workers.
Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, overtime and extra duty removed from the Police Force announced in the recent Budget
Submitted by Posh
I read in the Barbados Today publication about the meeting held between the Force and persons who have a vested interest in the St. Lawrence area. I particularly noted that it was stated by Inspector Streeks that the mobile unit is sometimes only staffed once a week due to resources. For those who don’t know resources really means man/woman power. (Not trying to patronize anyone).
There are one perhaps two issues I’d like to identify and perhaps offer my own opinion as to what might assist this situation. Firstly, the man power situation within the RBPF is not going to improve any time soon and in fact is only going to become worse. With the end to overtime and extra duty, all short falls in man power which would previously have been reinforced by extra/overtime is now no longer an option.
Then you have the ugly side effect of morale, no extra duty means low morale for any police force and while it is unfortunate it is unavoidable. So this tourist season we should all be prepared for less patrols, less visibility and less presence. What might happen is that some areas might be left vulnerable while others are bolstered.
The following was extracted from Wade Gibbons’ Facebook Page. He is a reporter for Barbados Today and is a former policeman.
Some excellent administrative and proactive moves by acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith. He is going to make a terrific leader of the RBPF, a position he should have held a long time ago.
The phones of innocent law-abiding Barbadians could not have been tapped by Dimwit Dottin without the knowledge and participation of some in the Special Branch which Dottin once headed. It was an ongoing criminal act by Dottin, deserving of imprisonment and not pension, and as such the hierarchy of that specialised department should have squealed on the thug and not be drawn into his criminality. No commissioner of police – an incompetent one at that – can compel a police officer to commit a crime.
If the force is to be purged of Dottin’s criminal presence, then of necessity some house-cleaning has to be done in departments such as the Special Branch. One transferred from that department is as close to me as a brother and I love him as such but wrong is wrong. Now that the Dottin cancer has been removed the organs of the body should gradually start to heal and return to a state of normalcy. Full praise to Commissioner Griffith. May God guide your every move.