Boyce gives assurance on force
by antoinetteconnell@ From a murder charge to the latest series of burglaries against officers, the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) has had its image dented.
But Acting Commissioner of Police Erwin Boyce said the arrest and charging of officers who ran into trouble with the law show that the constabulary can be trusted to deal with crime even when it is among its ranks. He has assured the public that the small number of officers charged over time, though a serious situation and reflecting badly on the force, is not widespread.
“The Royal Barbados Police Force acknowledges that over the years there’s been a deviation from our core values by a few, along with some unethical behaviour, and they have been charged and put before the courts to answer criminal matters. We view all charges as very serious and once the facts are there to establish something criminal they will go before the court. That has been the principle of the force.
“Obviously when we do that we recognise it will impact on our image and there’s some harm, especially when some instances demonstrate a level of planning. This is very disturbing for the force, an organisation that has responsibility for the investigation of crime,” he said, referencing this week’s conviction of suspended Constable Dirwayne Cumberbatch on a string of burglaries in the north.
The 30-year-old’s arrest and admission to 12 burglaries and one going equipped to burgle, this week, was the most recent scandal after the force was rocked by the March 2015 murder charge against Constable Everton Gittens, 46, who was initially remanded. Then it was sent reeling again in September last year when a veteran officer, Senior Superintendent John Annel, was charged with having more than 500 bullets.
In the last three years police officers have appeared on charges that also include statutory rape, a road death, coupled with several traffic violations, forgery, money laundering, and assault.
Boyce said that in spite of the charges the number of officers accused was small in light of the fact that more than 1 200 police officers are on active duty.
“This is an extremely small number in wrongdoing and it is contained. The force is very vigilant in ensuring discipline is maintained, and, yes, there will be instances where the police may misjudge the situation, give wrong direction or do the wrong thing, but there is a mechanism to deal with that and we ensure it works.
“Whenever there is wrongdoing reported and it requires investigation we will investigate and the public can rest assured that we will continue to respond to any areas of customer service that may be compromised. We will also deal with internal matters to maintain the integrity of the organisation. The force is a good force and we will do everything to make sure it remains that way or becomes a better one,” he said.
Boyce explained that it was difficult to say the level of distrust the public has in the police since no survey has been done to measure it.
“Because we are an organisation that constantly brings crime to light we are hoping, expecting the public will see that if you do wrong you will face the court. We want to restore any credibility that we would have lost in respect of the crimes brought to light through our investigations . . . . The force will not conceal behaviour that ought to be known,” said Boyce.
The RBPF is expecting to use the various media houses to have one-on-ones with the public along with station contact in the field in order to reinforce its value and correct any bad behaviour.