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COP needs to take better control of his force – Boyea

COP needs to take better control of his force – Boyea


Following the detention of the co-host of a popular morning radio show programme over remarks he made on air, the owner of Hot 97 SVG is questioning whether St Vincent and the Grenadines is becoming a police state.

Well-known music producer Alex ‘Kubiyashi’ Barnwell, who recently joined{{more}} the station’s ‘AM Mayhem’ morning show as co-host to Chris ‘2 Kool’ Jones, was escorted from the station by three police officers on Wednesday morning, after completing his on-air shift.

Speaking to SEARCHLIGHT, the radio station’s owner Luke Boyea said that while the Commissioner of Police Michael Charles has since apologized to Barnwell, the heavy-handed manner in which the police operated is very worrying.

“Institutions are processes, they are governed by bureaucracy… so when you’re going to pick up somebody, there must be a chain of command… and somebody must be signing off on it. If that’s not happening, then you do have the start of a police state… that’s what we are in danger of,” asserted Boyea.

He further said whether that is the intention of the Government or not, the actions of police officers in the past make it seem so.

“Some of their actions give this impression.

Some of the things that the government does, in terms of how they deal with issues, [do] not necessarily seem to be by the book.”

Persons present at the time of Barnwell’s detention on Wednesday morning said that the police were extremely hostile when they visited the station looking for Barnwell – whose arrest is said to have stemmed from comments he had made on air about charges brought against a 17-year-old male student, who is alleged to have had sex with a 13-year-old female student.

Reports are that the alleged encounter between the students was videotaped and circulated on social media.

Barnwell, who seems to be taking the incident in his stride, told SEARCHLIGHT that although he finds the reaction of the police officers to be distasteful and unwarranted, he got the impression that they behaved that way because they incorrectly assumed that he is a difficult and unreasonable person to deal with.

He explained that the COP invited him to his office yesterday morning to discuss the matter, along with several other highranking officers.

“They apologized… he [Charles] said that the people [police officers] who came here yesterday were completely wrong… Charles himself was very firm in saying that’s not how they do things…because at the end of the day it reflects on the police force and it reflects on his office.”

Barnwell also said that the COP said that he will be taking all the officers involved in Wednesday’s fiasco to task about the way in which it was handled.

A source with knowledge of the situation said that Barnwell was summoned by the police after they received a call telling them that he was promoting pornography on air. Barnwell, who denied this accusation, was held for less than half hour at the Central Police Station in Kingstown.

According to the source, the police themselves did not hear Barnwell’s comments, but detained him after the person made the telephone call to the station.

Acknowledging that the order to detain Barnwell did not come from the COP, Boyea suggested that Commissioner Charles needs to take better control of what happens within his force.

“How… can they decide independently they’re gonna go and drag a guy off radio?

How was that decision even come to?” he questioned.

Boyea noted that even worse was the fact that the officer in charge had not been listening to the radio programme – he was given an incorrect account of what was said by a source.

In a series of posts made on Twitter Wednesday night, Boyea wrote: “So presumably based off some hearsay the troopers were dispatched. Is this how we now police? If there was a concern why not pick up phone??

“Was this a deliberate act of INTIMIDATION???

What are the police worried about? Was the real concern talk of STATUTORY RAPE?

“Real crime happening yet priority seems to be to stop a radio announcer talking!! 3 officers!!! #wtf Somebody really want this thing hushed!”

The Hot 97 SVG boss also drew reference to the recent situation involving teacher Jozette Bibby-Bowens, who, on March 2, 2015, was arrested on school grounds by police officers for profanitylaced comments she allegedly posted on Facebook. After being charged with two counts of obscene publication, the charges against the teacher were discontinued on April 16 by Director of Public Prosecutions Colin Williams.

“I said it to the police… you’ve just been through this… so why are you going to go straight back into it? So, when they say ‘it’s not our policy’, you have to wonder.”

He also accused the police of not being fair – that the way they operate seems to be influenced by the economic and social status of the persons involved.

“The problem with St Vincent is that everything is politicized, so nobody is really independent,” admonished Boyea.

“They are a ULP man or an NDP man; not to say that either way is bad.

Nonetheless, they’re not an SVG man…that’s where the problems come in because they are serving two masters – they have the law and then they have the party. Which one takes precedence? I would say almost 99 times out of 100, the party takes precedence.”

When contacted, Commissioner of Police Michael Charles told SEARCHLIGHT that he heard about the matter on Wednesday, and is currently carrying out investigations.

He, however, declined to comment further on the matter, stating: “That is all I can say right now.”