September 2, 2011
Who will guard the guards?

Fri, Sept. 02, 2011

Normally, when complaints are made in our society about wrong-doings on the part of the Police, it has to do with the use of excessive force by officers against civilians. Many are the cases which have been exposed in this regard, too few of them leading to any semblance of justice for civilians.{{more}}

Now it appears that there is a new type of complaint against police officers. Not that police brutality has ceased, but now, there are some in our Police Force who seem to want to imitate their civilian counterparts who wish to live on the wrong side of the law.

The newspapers over the last few weeks have carried stories about officers, who are supposed to be upholding the law, appearing before magistrates on charges of theft, rape, and the like. Some of the offences, including the charges of rape of a minor and theft, are alleged to have occurred within the precincts of police stations.

How could that be? What is happening in the ranks of our Police Force that results in such degrading behaviour, sullying the reputation of the Force and causing civilians to question the integrity of the many honest ones among them? Some years ago, a former Commissioner of Police was quoted as saying that there are “bad eggs” in the Police Force. Obviously, those eggs are now rotten and stink to high heaven. A thorough cleansing is necessary.

The negatives demonstrated by these lawless acts threaten to erode the gains made over the years in Police Public relations – the cooperation in the Neighbourhood watch programme; the Pan Against Crime initiative; the police band Christmas community visits; the popular weekly radio programmes, and the very successful summer programmes organized by the police band and the Coast Guard. All of these are excellent examples of the better side of the Force.

So it is imperative that zero tolerance be exhibited when criminal offences turn out to be ‘inside jobs’. We support strong action being taken against those who, while having sworn to uphold the law, blatantly disrespect it and their badge of honour. If those paid to protect us are stealing and assaulting, ‘who will guard the guards?’, to use the words of King Austin’s memorable calypso.

One worrying sign for us all must be the apparent prevalence in such acts. For this, Commissioner Miller must accept that the buck stops with him. It is under his watch that these incidents are coming to light. He can, however, say that it demonstrates not that it is only just happening, but that under his leadership, offenders are being apprehended and prosecuted. The big worry is that Commissioner Miller, to the chagrin of the vast majority of citizens, recently re-employed three offenders who had been convicted in Court. What signal did that give?

God knows, we have enough criminals, of all types, on the outside, to have to worry about those on the inside. Firm measures must be taken to not only deal harshly with the offenders, but also to protect the reputation of the Police Force and to rebuild the trust and confidence of our citizens in it.