Barbadian Community Leaders liaise with American Community Policing Expert – US Embassy facilitates critical workshop in reasserting order in Barbados
The recent criminal City tragedy where six Bajan women lost their lives to an unusual armed robbery shows an extraordinary breakdown where a Community assists in developing the character of its young people – it may take a village to raise a child, but who polices the Village?
This was one of the points raised in a specialised seminar for district supervisors of the Barbadian community in a special workshop organised by the United States Embassy for Barbados & the Eastern Caribbean. The seminar’s facilitator, Dr Chuck Wexler, hails from Boston and is a Community Policing advocate who’s already initiated programmes with Grant’s Pen in Jamaica.
Dr Wexler is also the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) which assisted Trinidad in 1990 with tracking down members of the Jamaat Al-Muslimeen from the July coup that year.
In getting to know Barbados, the expert criminologist was appraised of the view that it appears many areas of this island have inactive communities which leads to a more reactive stance when handling issues and very seldom is pro-activity led by Police here, in fact a recent article in the print media indicated Neighbourhood Watches reduced significantly from 151 to 69 in the last two years.
The interaction with Dr Wexler was very open, where participants expressed their view that young Barbadians do not seem to care and while this is their perception nevertheless most of them considered it a reality as well; other attendees felt that comparing Barbados’ murder rate with other islands gives us a false sense of security – it is thought if the incidents were examined as isolated situations and instead focus on the causes and and origins of the devolution of Barbadian values in recent decades.
Dr Wexler in learning these critical components, reminded his audience that Community Policing is a serious investment where how you build a relationship between officers and districts creates the bond of Trust necessary for helping reduce instances of criminal behaviour.
As an example, the criminologist sees nothing wrong with Community leaders taking a leaf out of US Police’s books when it comes to Safe Parking – visit the places which are popular for stationing vehicles and rate them… Red is minimal or no lighting, no attendants and theft is prevalent; a Yellow designated area may mean there’s some lighting, stealing can happen but not often and sometimes attendants are available; while Green is the best where attendants are always present, it’s highly illuminated and a heavy security presence prevents any burglaries.
This Parking Lot colour code was a hit in Minneapolis and reduced vehicular crimes by 23% the following year, Dr Wexler also believes Barbadians need to use the SARA method to control matters before matters control their neighbourhoods, SARA is Scanning/Analysis/Response/Assessment.
The PERF executive director also distributed publications for participants to be more informed of their future plans – “Community Policing – Past, Present & Future” by Lorie Fridell & Mary-Ann Wycoff as well as “Managing A Multijurisdictional Case (Identifying Lessons Learned From The Sniper Investigation)” which Dr Wexler co-authored.