Time for serious changes in the Police Service

 This is in response to the cop who shot his niece and then himself in Siparia on Boxing Day.

Firstly, my sympathies to the bereaved family and the Police Service. What caused this suicide? A supposedly disciplined individual blows a gasket and goes haywire. This was not a first-time occurrence. It has occurred multiple times before. After it has happened, it is not heard of again. Why was there such an abhorrent use of police power? They are recruited and selected to protect and serve yet they exhibit deviant behaviour.

Where are our shortcomings? Recruitment, selection, training and leadership management? How are we going to solve this problem? Firstly, by acknowledging that we have a problem. We must ensure our selection process is not flawed. There must be a vast improvement in the present system. No nepotism, no friends and family.

The entry requirements should be increased to at least two CAPE/A-Levels. There is a joke: “How do you know a police officer? Ask him to spell Abercromby.” This has to change. Proper psychometric testing—using psychological instruments to assess the cognitive thought process and critical thinking—should be carried out on all applicants. An intelligence quotient test must 

be done.

These requirements are necessary because a policeman’s job requires strong critical-thinking skills, being able to react appropriately to other people’s emotions. In short, he must be able to think on his feet and react to others in an appropriate manner. Police must use their given powers effectively and efficiently. 

A police officer must have a high sense of civic duty; he must be internally motivated. He should not be doing it for salary alone or because he could not get another job.

Is the police training contextually rele­vant? In 2014, a new breed of officer is required. Con­tinuous training and training evaluation is vital. Big, bad and brave is not the way to go. The solution is persuasive and coercive, not oppressive.

Everyone wants to be treated like a human being, regardless of whomever they are. Have you ever went to make a report in a police station and left, feeling you had shot the Pope?

Transformation leadership should be our main focus. An excellent example of this is in the Bahamas Police Force. Our commissioner has been acting for a long period, with no confirmation in sight. After three months of continuous acting with no discrepancies, he should be confirmed. 

Police officers must be given the proper tools to do their job. They should have high health and safety standards. Shifts should be of shorter duration. Good, functioning toilets, proper restrooms and specific vehicles are imperative.

The use of non lethal weapons, for example, Tasers, should be encouraged. Officers who take home weapons must be stable and have the wea­pon properly secured at all times.

An effective disciplinary method must be in place to deal with deviant officers. It must not last years. The commissioner must be given more teeth, he must not be a toothless bulldog. He must be able to make more human-resource decisions on his own.

Gentlemen, we have a serious job to do, let us get it on. Change will come.

Be safe out there.

AV Rampersad

Princes Town

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