A former detective is advising the police to step up its stop-and-search tactic in a bid to drive down the wave of violent crime
And Valman Thompson has suggested bringing soldiers into the act “if we need to”, as he spoke at the launch of a new anti-marijuana pressure group.
“I am not saying that we have to go so far as bringing in soldiers to help us, but I am saying that if we need to we should.
“But I think it is time for the police force to step up and do more stop-and-search and go into those areas where we see that there is a hype and use of this marijuana drugs in Barbados,” he recommended.
Thompson, who spent 18 years in the force until 2009, put forward the suggestion on Monday as he threw his support behind the newly-launched Coalition For a Safe, Healthy and Productive Barbados at a media conference at the Co-operators General Insurance office.
The coalition has been introduced primarily to educate residents about the dangers of using marijuana should a referendum be held on the use of the weed for recreational purposes. A date is yet to be announced.
Thompson recalled that during his police career, most of which was spent as a detective at the Central Police Station, he gathered information that suggested that most crimes on the island were as a result of the illicit drug trade.
He said: “I used to be in the Orleans, Chapman Lane, and all around The City areas, and the majority of these areas you go where fellows are smoking the marijuana. After smoking the marijuana you see the effects.
“Some of them become very slow, then some get in the habit of begging… and they start stealing and committing crimes just to get money to buy drugs, or they get involved in some other illegal activity – the bad behaviours that are taking over the entire communities and then you have this block culture.”
He continued: “A lot of the crimes people say were due to when they get high…or they commit these crimes to get money to buy the drugs.”
So far, there have been 30 murders this year, two more than in all of 2018.
And while authorities have been giving the assurance that they were doing all they could to combat this scourge, there have been increasing concerns from residents and tourism industry figures.
Thompson told reporters there was currently a school of thought that there is a link between the high murder rate and “the drug culture in this country”.
He insisted: “Some people are saying ‘no, it is not a drug culture’, but if you check it carefully the majority of them have some relation or link to drugs in this country. I know the police force has a rough time to deal with the drug.”
But recalling that the late Inspector Anderson Bowen would mount regular stop-and-search operations both day and night, as well as carry out search warrants “at places that we know used to have these drugs”, Thompson suggested the time had come to get back to those methods.
On the proposal to hold a referendum for the recreational use of marijuana, the coalition’s members said they were concerned that this could lead to even more crimes, road fatalities, and even more children using or being affected by people around them using.
Reverend Paul Leacock of the First Baptist Church, a member of the coalition, told journalists while he could not speak on behalf of all churches in Barbados, he believed several questions must be answered before a referendum for the recreational use of marijuana was even considered.
He questioned if the country had a social safety net to cater to any “fallout”, the manpower in the form of psychologists and psychiatrists, and if there would be changes to the education system in relation to duties of teachers and the number of guidance counsellors to handle any impacts.
Leacock also questioned if the island’s lone psychiatric hospital was capable of handling any likely increase in the number of patients from marijuana usage or if the island was prepared for any loss in people from the labour force.
“These are just a few of the questions that need to be raised, and if we as ministers of the gospel are interested in the well-being of our people, which we are, we have to ask.
“We ask them so that those responsible for policy formation may do so and be aware that we are interested, and that we want to see the good of our people and of our land.”