Our Readers' Opinions
November 5, 2004

Crime within the police force?

Editor: We have to be careful, in reacting to the escalating crime situation, not to allow individual and collective freedom to be eroded under the guise of “narrowing the space for criminals”.

The carte blanche authority given to the police could signal a danger that might be counter-productive to the very purpose for which it was intended. {{more}}

There have been reports of police officers involved in all forms of nefarious activities. It may be consoling to know that most of those cases have surfaced from jurisdictions outside St. Vincent and the Grenadines. But that is not to say that the local officers have not picked up on the trend. In fact, one might be bold enough to assert that the pattern seems to have been well entren-ched here as well.

Many persons within the community know of the activities, behaviour and conduct of many of our officers. The debate is being waged as to the credibility of many officers within the constabulary.

How can the Prime Minister let loose these elements on the citizenry, who are innocent and law abiding?

The uncouth, brash, and aggressive nature of some police officers has left many a decent citizen worried as to the ethics of policing.

No doubt there are well-trained officers keen to carry out their duties in a just and humane fashion. But given the new breed of lawbreakers, it would be naïve to expect police officers to operate with kid gloves and assume that everything is business as usual.

The stop and search measures initiated by the police have the impact of appeasing an apprehensive public. But the police in their anxiety might be advised to ensure that they go about their job with decorum.

But beyond that, those responsible for the composition of the constabulary must ensure that the persons who are entrusted with the administration of the rule of law are indeed worthy of performing the task.

Reports of police abuse have been far too widespread. In most cases they remain hushed, swept aside, and covered up by administrative bureaucracy.

We don’t want any more abuses by the police on our hands; neither do we want civil war with the police, forgetting their role as protectors of the community and waging a war on the citizenry under the pretext of fighting crime. After all, the Caribbean has its own sense of history, and we are yet to forge a system of justice for the majority of the population.

Arthur B. Swift