Minister of National Security Marvin Dames.
By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
NATIONAL Security Minister Marvin Dames said yesterday the police force is committed to tackling the incidence of alleged abuses by boosting training as well as increasing transparency of police investigations into complaints.
His comment came after several videos were circulated on social media showing police officers slapping, hitting or engaging in conflict with members of the public.
Mr Dames maintained the government’s commitment to bringing back into force a civilian committee to independently review complaint investigations.
“It’s always concerning to us anytime we see our law enforcement officers on social media involved in conflicts with members of the public,” Mr Dames said, “that’s always a point, a cause for concern. I’ve been discussing this issue with the commissioner and his executive team and steps are being taken internally to work on that - from a training perspective as well as from an investigative perspective.
Last week, another viral video of a police officer’s physical attack on a person has prompted criticism across social media.
In a one minute clip posted online, a police officer strikes a man in the face at least twice. The video is blurry but the man did not appear to be resisting arrest.
The video has since been shared hundreds of times on Facebook, and was posted less than a week after another video of a police officer slapping a man on a beach. The beach incident prompted Police Commissioner Anthony Ferguson to open an investigation into the matter.
In that 14-second clip, an officer steadily walked toward a man and slapped him across the face, causing the man to stumble more than once.
Commissioner Ferguson said the matter is being investigated by Deputy Commissioner Emrick Seymour.
Yesterday, Mr Dames said: “As you are well aware that there is a complaints and discipline unit, and a part of our focus as a government we would like to make the working of the unit more transparent so the public can see that the police despite the fact that they are called upon to investigate their own, that they’re very transparent in the process.
“Additionally the committee of civilians that was formed under the previous legislation allowed for a group to look at police investigations to provide an independent eye. It was disbanded a few years ago and we intend to bring that back very shortly so that it will allow for a greater degree of transparency and independence as police carry out their investigations.”
Mr Dames added: “We are truly concerned when we see these incidences and we don’t want them to happen. I think it cast a negative shadow over law enforcement and that is something that we’re trying to move away from. We’re trying to forge a new direction with the community and it’s situations, incidents, like these that really takes us back.”