Regional Top Cops told to rein in excessive use of force

(Barbados Nation) Excessive use of force by police is of concern to Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, and he has asked regional commissioners to pay attention to it.

Use of force was among seven areas Brathwaite spoke about on the assumption that they would be discussed by the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police (ACCP) at its two-day intersessional meeting, which got under way at Divi Southwinds yesterday.

“I still have the highest regard and trust for the men and women of the Royal Barbados Police Force. Complaints . . . . You hear [them] from time to time. You would have heard me say that in a 2008 survey that was carried out . . . 15, 16 per cent of respondents expressed concern, so it is there.

“That’s why we have the Police Complaints Authority; that’s why internally the Police Force itself has mechanisms to examine these reports. I can’t say I’m overly concerned, given my knowledge of what happens in practice.

“I don’t want to be castigated for saying that I’m not overly concerned, because it doesn’t negate the fact that I’m concerned, because the violation of even one person’s rights is something that we shouldn’t tolerate,” Brathwaite said.

He added that complaints of excessive force will come up, even in First World police forces.

“It’s almost par for the course. It’s something that continually police forces have to deal with,” he noted.

ACCP president Ellison Greenslade of The Bahamas concurred. He said his organization got complaints about police brutality and inappropriate conduct in the daily discharge of officers’ duties.

Using his own force as an example, Greenslade said complaints were “properly” investigated by the Complaints and Corruptions Branch and that there were similar arms in forces across the region.

In keeping with the need to have upstanding officers in the force, Greenslade said, he had discharged more than 20 officers this year for various reasons because they had contravened the law or behaved in such a way that they were no longer fit to serve as officers.

He signalled his intention to share with his counterparts at this ACCP session the legal provisions that allowed him to take those actions.

Greenslade also disclosed that the association was receptive to external investigation of police conduct.

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