Get bad cops

Police Complaints Authority Director David West -
Police Complaints Authority Director David West -

THE SOBERING statistics on police killings given by Director of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) David West on Sunday underline the fact that another pressing issue facing newly-minted Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher is how to address concerns of police misconduct given the failure of several of her predecessors to make a real dent on this issue.

Bad-apple cops have always been a problem within the service, but the figures given by Mr West paint a picture of a worsening problem. According to him, fatal police shootings from 2019 to 2022 have hovered around just over 30 per year, with a dramatic spike last year taking the tally to 43.

And that’s just official figures within the system that sees the PCA probe reports and initiate its own inquiries.

Not long after she assumed office, Ms Harewood-Christopher wasted no time in launching a probe of a video purportedly showing police misconduct in the arrest of a Princes Town man. When she was acting as the top cop, she also ordered a probe into a social media video of the purported arrest of a female traffic warden.

There is no shortage of such matters involving police officers requiring attention.

One day after Mr West disclosed his agency’s concerning statistics, he also confirmed starting a probe into yet another social media video which appeared to show police officers engaging in certain conduct in a business place.

Meanwhile, the puzzling failure to account for 500 rounds of nine-millimetre ammunition seized from a Chaguanas gun dealership in October 2022 continues to receive attention from officers.

Police killings are not a problem unique to this country. Even after the global outcry caused by the 2020 murder of George Floyd, the US last year recorded its highest level of police-involved fatalities since 2013 with a record 1,176 people being killed, the majority of them African American.

This country has a completely different demographic makeup, but as demonstrated by the killing of Tyre Nichols in the US earlier this year, the problem is not limited to race factors but involves the use – or rather abuse – of power inherent in some policing cultures.

Nor is the problem limited to murder.

Domestic violence offences and allegations of human trafficking have engaged the attention of the PCA. Additionally, other offences recorded within the system include corruption, misbehaviour in public office, shooting with intent, neglect of duty and unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority.

The geographic spread of these reports is also wide, suggesting the need for this to be addressed as being as much an administrative matter as well as one of police culture.

While arrests have been noted in the past, we hope the latest probes will be speedy and that more effective enforcement action will follow each and every announcement.


"Get bad cops"

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