Residents of St. Andrew gathered in the school yard of The Alleyne School, after walking out of the Town Hall meeting put on by the Royal Barbados Police Force, about the relocation of Belleplaine Police Station.
From left: Assistant Superintendent, Richard Boyce; Divisional Commander of the Northern Division, Superintendent, Bruce Rowe; Senior Superintendent of Police, Eucklyn Thompson; and Station Sergeant District ‘F’ Police Station, Jonathan Seale, during the Town Hall meeting held at Alleyne School.
Ralph Blackman showing the petition to stop the closure of Belleplaine Police Station.
Residents object to Belleplaine closure
A WASTE of time!
This is how residents of St. Andrew described a Town Hall meeting put on by the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) on Sunday, to inform that community of the pending re-location of the Belleplaine Police Station to the District ‘F’ Police Station, at Tamarind Hall, St. Joseph.
During the meeting held at The Alleyne School, residents expressed their anger over the closure of the station, pointing out that they were not officially notified of the decision, and were not consulted before it was made. Several of them eventually stormed out of the school hall when the senior officers were unable to give definitive answers to some of the questions posed.
Residents explained that the presence of the Belleplaine Police Station has been a deterrent to crime in that area, and therefore, its closure will put them, business places in the area, and the many visitors who pass through every day, at an increased risk of becoming victims of crime.
“We object to the closure of the Belleplaine Police Station, and urge the relevant authorities to reverse this decision and to take whatever action is necessary to ensure that the Police Station remains in Belleplaine,” outlined the Petition they signed after the near two-hour meeting.
Apologising from the outset of the meeting for the lack of communication, Senior Superintendent of Police, Eucklyn Thompson, also assured residents that the amalgamation of the two stations, to be renamed “District ‘F’ Belleplaine”, will provide a better policing plan.
“We have put a plan in place that will give you 24-hour policing – even better than you are currently getting,” he stressed. “We are not saying to you that change does not have its fallouts, but we are indeed going to work with you at every turn, to enable you to transition as smoothly as possible… The two stations have a long history of interlinking at night to mount a patrol coverage for the two districts. The station will be able to provide consistent, daily and nightly patrol coverage in the district.”
Divisional Commander of the Northern Division, Superintendent Bruce Rowe, explained that the reason for the closure of Belleplaine Police Station is due to structural problems. He revealed the plan to construct a complex which will house the Police Station, Post Office and Health Clinic. He also told residents that a Police Post will be placed in the Elaine Scantlebury Centre, in Belleplaine, however noting that it must be renovated first.
“That is why we are moving the officers to District F station first, and when that project is finished, we will have officers based in Belleplaine during the day,” Superintendent Rowe explained.
“The policing plan is to have three vehicles stationed at District ‘F’ Belleplaine Station – one to patrol St. Andrew, one to patrol St. Joseph, and in addition we will have a police officer in the Belleplaine area during the day. Each vehicle will be manned by two officers.
“We will have a policeman on foot in Belleplaine – a community officer. Also, there will be standby vehicle at the station. On top of that, we have a divisional patrol that will be focusing on District F Belleplaine. To police your area, we have sat with the Tactical Response Unit (TRU), and they will be putting additional patrols in this area. I can assure you that you are getting even greater coverage when we roll out this plan by May 1st.”
However, even the disclosure of the policing plan did not ease residents, as it was suggested that renovations of the Elaine Scantlebury Centre start right away so that officers at Belleplaine Police Station can move directly into the Post, instead of going to District ‘F’. (TL)