PM Tell Public to 'Stop Protecting Criminals'

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Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham /Prime Minister of The Bahamas

Nassau Bahamas – Reaffirming his government’s commitment to providing the Royal Bahamas Police Force the tools it needs to fight crime, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham urged Bahamians to put an end to protecting criminals and making excuses for those involved in crime.

Mr. Ingraham’s remarks came during the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s retirement banquet in Nassau Friday in honour of three of its senior officers.

The Prime Minister also dispelled a lie told during the election that he would raise police pay within 90 days of coming into office. “I did not promise – a raise in salary for police officers within 90 days of coming to office. This is only one of the many lies told about me!” Mr Ingraham said.

The Prime Minister’s Comments in full.
THE PRIME MINISTER: The Royal Bahamas Police Force is our first line of defence against crime.

I take this opportunity to reassure the retiring senior officers that the Government remains committed to doing the necessary to maintain and ensure the ongoing capacity and capability of the Police Force to carry out its mandate.

And that mandate is to protect and guard the Bahamian State; to protect and guard the citizens and residents of The Bahamas, their property and their rights; to protect and guard the millions who come to visit with us; and generally to enforce the law and maintain good order and peace of our nation.

I want to assure the Police Command of my Government’s firm commitment to continue to invest not only in the upgrade and enhancement of the Police Force as regards manpower training, but also as regards communications systems, investigative techniques and other technologies.

I reaffirm also, my Government’s commitment to continue to implement focused initiatives to improve the terms and conditions of service of police officers. This exercise is already underway.

No, this does not mean – and I did not promise – a raise in salary for police officers within 90 days of coming to office. This is only one of the many lies told about me!

But yes, it does mean that better insurance coverage will be provided for police officers, and also for the dependents of officers seriously injured or killed in the line of duty.

And, I want to say again that my Government will not only promote, support and endorse the adoption of modern human resource management processes and procedures in the Police Force, we will ensure that merit and leadership attributes are the criteria for advancement in the Force.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I know that this is a difficult time for the Police Force.

We are today in the midst of an unacceptably high crime wave. Murder, rapes, armed robberies and other serious crimes against the person continue to shatter the peace of our lives. Statistics on crime against property indicate that such incidences also continue to rise. The fear of crime is growing.

Much of the crime creating and feeding our fears is being committed by individuals known to their victims – that is by family members and close associates.

A disturbing number of the perpetrators of serious crime are young men, some still in school. And, some young females are also involved in the violence; in some cases they have proven to be the instigators of violence.

I take this opportunity to endorse the message of the police to the public: we must stop protecting criminals; we must stop making excuses for those involved in crime.

Indeed, we need to develop a zero-tolerance level for crime – all crime – including petty crime.

Good policing practices alone will not, cannot solve our crime problem. That requires vigilance and a commitment by all of us to join the fight on many fronts, beginning in the home and including our neighbourhoods, our schools, our churches and our civic groups.

I know that all of you in this room agree that too many of our young people find themselves in police holding cells and then before our courts.

Too many of our young people are, for cause, going to jail.

And too many young, non-violent offenders become repeat, and then violent offenders.

Crime has proven to be a many-sided monster. We are therefore implementing a multi-faceted response: supporting our police; improving our anti-crime legislation; providing the required support to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the judicial service; expanding anti-crime education programmes in our schools and in our communities; and promoting tolerance and non-violence in conflict resolution.

The success of any programme requires the participation of the people. And so, while recognizing the contribution of veteran law enforcement officers as they move into another chapter of their lives, I invite all Bahamians first and foremost to support our police and to support anti-crime efforts and initiatives in our community.

Paying Tribute to RBPF Retirees

I am very pleased to have been invited to this event. Tonight we say farewell.

This is an auspicious occasion and one that is worthy of national recognition.

To be an effective police officer requires courage, integrity, dedication and commitment.

There are few professions in which one’s conduct and behaviour must always be manifestly beyond reproach; policing is one such profession. People expect a high standard of ethical and moral behaviour from policemen.

Policing is a special profession; it demands a special persona. Many are called to this noble profession but few are chosen. From amongst those selected even fewer finish the long march to the end of their policing career.

Deputy Commissioner John Rolle, Sr. Assistant Commissioners Allan Gibson and Reuben Smith represent collectively 120 years of service in this great organization.

Each career has been marked with distinction.

Deputy Commissioner Rolle enlisted in the Police Force 42 years ago, in 1965, and rose through the ranks to become Deputy Commissioner of Police 6 years ago, in 2001. Throughout his career the Deputy Commissioner has been recognized as a hardworking, highly intelligent, dedicated and loyal Police Officer who contributed significantly to the maintenance of law and order throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

He has been unflinching in the shouldering of very heavy responsibilities. His extensive periods of training abroad combined with his experience no doubt contributed to his success and to his remarkable leadership ability.

Sr. Assistant Commissioner Gibson followed the Deputy onto the Force one year later in 1966 and rose through the ranks over the past 41 years to become Sr. Assistant Commissioner in March of this year.

He is another seasoned police officer who gained a wealth of experience in the area of crime prevention and detection, having spent many years with the Criminal Investigation Department.

Sr. Assistant Commissioner Gibson has described by his superiors as a capable, dedicated, knowledgeable and reliable officer who went beyond the call of duty to ensure the fulfillment of his responsibilities.

And finally, Sr. Assistant Commissioner Smith joined the Force in 1970 – 37 years ago, and also rose to the rank of Sr. Assistant Commissioner this year.

Sr. Assistant Commissioner Smith has been recognized for being well-rounded in general policing duties and gifted with administrative and managerial skills. He has been described as a sober-minded, meticulous individual who was conscientious in his dealings and not afraid of responsibilities.

He too was well trained, both locally and overseas, in organizational management, and as a result, commanded several vital areas of the Force.

Throughout their careers Officers Rolle, Gibson and Smith proved to be loyal, dependable and steadfast in the fulfillment of their duty and responsibility to the people of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

These officers each participated in and contributed to the growth and development of the Royal Bahamas Police Force from the fairly simple colonial Force they joined decades ago to the computerized and increasingly technologically sophisticated Police Force of a sovereign Bahamas today.

They experienced similarly, the dramatic rise in the levels of criminality in our communities and the increased level of sophistication and violence associated with that criminality.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Retirement is not a happy time for some.

Many do not look forward to it and seek to do whatever is possible to postpone the inevitable, disbelieving as it were, the saying that “when one door closes another one opens.”

Alexander Graham Bell observed in that regard that sometimes we spend so much time looking long and regretfully at the closed door that we fail to see the new one that has opened for us.

I do not believe that this will be the case with the senior police officers who retire following long and productive years of good service.

They move into retirement with important skills and valuable experiences that will permit them to continue to be useful and helpful members of their communities and our country.

I trust, gentlemen, that in retirement you will be at peace with yourselves knowing that you did your best while in the service of the Royal Bahamas Police Force.

It gives me great pleasure therefore, on behalf of the Government and people of The Bahamas, to express thanks and appreciation for service of Deputy Commissioner John Rolle, and Sr. Assistant Commissioners Allan Gibson and Reuben Smith, to recognize and acknowledge their contribution, to commend their service and to extend our very best wishes for their future, a future that we hope will be less hectic and quieter but productive and useful to them and to the continued benefit of the Bahamian people whom they have served so well for so long.

Good luck and God bless you.