by Carlena Knight
Police Commissioner Atlee Rodney has renewed calls for the upgrading of police stations across the country.
Rodney, while speaking on the Observer AM showearlier this week, continued to expound on the point that there are stations that need urgent attention.
“My hopes and my desire is to see a major investment in the infrastructure of the police force, in terms of the police stations – and my argument is that if you make that big investment in repairing or building of the stations that would be something nobody has to worry about for the next 15, 20, 25 years,” Rodney said.
Many police stations and holding cells across the island have been in a deplorable condition for years, with both detainees and lawyers threatening to sue the government.
In June 2020, scores of police officers gathered for the first of three major protests at the Police Recreation Grounds demanding that the facilities be upgraded, among other grievances.
They also spoke of a lack of running water at the stations, as well as deteriorating fixtures and plumbing.
Since then, work has been done on the Police Headquarters and a few of the stations to include the St John’s and Parham stations.
But Rodney noted there are still stations such as the ones in Bolans and Barbuda that need to be fixed. The sister isle’s station has been out of action since 2017’s Hurricane Irma.
He added that the fact that these stations are out of commission limits the kind of policing the force could be doing in these areas.
“Especially when you look at the Bolans area, it’s a large community. It’s a community that has residential areas, yes, but also has a lot of major commercial areas and the absence of a police station in close proximity, it hampers our operations and that’s why we are asking to give Bolans that priority, to give us a new station.
“It does not have to be big. It just needs to have all the basic areas we need within a police station feasible for us to operate effectively. Barbuda has the same situation and we want to improve the services we give to Barbuda but we don’t have the facilities to do that,” he explained.
Meanwhile, the top cop is continuing to encourage his officers to get serious about their fitness and health – another issue which has come back under the spotlight recently.
Rodney says that although there is no legislation in place requiring officers to have a certain level of fitness, it is something that they should take pride in as it will greatly impact the way they carry out their duties.
“The facilities are there, like for instance we now have a gym, we have a sports complex, so you have the opportunities now that you can keep fit.
“A lot of persons live in areas where they can take part in morning walk. There’s a lot of hiking groups out there now so there are a lot of opportunities and I will continue to encourage officers to take pride in their health and take pride in how they look in uniform so that they can do this job. You have to be physically fit and mentally fit,” Rodney added.