PM Makes Critical Responses to Crime

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New Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade inspecting officers.

LISTEN NOW – Prime Minister Ingraham’s Remarks

Remarks by Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham – Royal Bahamas Police Force Handover Ceremony, Nassau:

THE PRIME MINISTER: Today we witness the passing of the baton, not only from one commissioner and chain of command to another, but also from one generation to the next. Today we observe both continuity and change.

There is continuity with the rich legacy and fine traditions of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, dedicated to courage, integrity and loyalty, values demonstrated by Commissioner of Police (Retired) Reginald Ferguson and, I am pleased to officially say for the first time, Commissioner Ellison Greenslade, as well as Deputy Commissioner Marvin Dames and Senior Assistant Commissioner Quinn McCartney.

hubert_aThese three career police officers, along with Assistant Commissioner Hulan Hanna and newly-appointed Assistant Commissioners Glen Miller, John Ferguson and Willard Cunningham, will comprise the new Executive Management Team of the Royal Bahamas Police Force. In this group there is continuity and change, but foremost there is a vast amount of policing experience.

In fact, while Commissioner Greenslade will not mark his 50th birthday until 2011, he has spent his entire professional life on the Force, gaining much experience. Many will be surprised to learn that last year was his 30th on the Force.

Gratitude to Reginald Ferguson

Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Reginald Ferguson began his career on the Force in 1965, prior to majority rule, having served diligently in a variety of posts, eventually becoming Commissioner. His career coincides with our modern national development over the course of 36 years of independence.

Further, as I noted at his retirement banquet: “He happens still to subscribe to a long-standing and important tenet of professional policing in a democracy that some have apparently dispensed with, and that is that no one is above the law.”

Sir, for your dutiful and long service, you have the deserved regard of the public officials and civilian colleagues with whom you have worked over the years, and the full measure of thanks of a grateful nation.

I know that Bahamians everywhere, from Snug Corner, Acklins, the place of your birth, to communities throughout our archipelago, join with me in wishing you well with your future endeavours. I also thank your wife Dulcita and your family for the sacrifices they made during your career on the frontlines of our national security.

Welcome to Deputy Commissioner Marvin Dames and Senior Assistant Commissioner Quinn McCartney

Deputy Commissioner Dames and Senior Assistant Commissioner McCartney: Congratulations on your respective appointments. The country is proud of you. We are proud of your integrity and accomplishments.

Now your country calls upon you to lend your energies and talents in new ways in these extraordinarily challenging times. Along with Commissioner Greenslade, you are charged with helping to stem an unacceptable surge of crime threatening our people, our homes and businesses, our way of life and our peace of mind.

Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Deputy Commissioner Marvin Dames, a product of our public schools, has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and has gained further policing and management training in Britain at the Police Staff College, the University of Leicester and through a posting with Scotland Yard.

He trained with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and served as a World Fellow at Yale University in the United States. He also trained with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

He has served in multiple capacities on the Force, including as Officer-in-Charge of the Central Detective Unit and the Drug Enforcement Unit, and as the District Commander for the Northern Bahamas.

Deputy Commissioner Dames has received numerous awards, is a member of several professional associations, has published a variety of works on policing, and serves as a guest speaker and lecturer at the College of the Bahamas in law and criminal justice.

Senior Assistant Commissioner Quinn McCartney has a highly attuned scientific mind having gained an Associate’s Degree in Chemistry and Biology, a Bachelor of Science Degree from McGill University in Canada and a Master’s Degree in Forensic Science from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland.

He has received extensive training through numerous specialized courses and has considerable managerial and forensics experience on the Force. His training includes programmes with the United Nations, the Drug Enforcement Agency of the United States, and the completion of an Executive Diploma in Strategic Management from the Chartered Management Institute in the United Kingdom.

Commissioner Greenslade: May I offer you some modest advice as one with some experience in the business of leading: vigorously nurture the talents of others, providing them with ongoing opportunities for professional development and personal growth.

Just as it takes a healthy community to nurture our youth, it takes a forward-looking team to effectively develop and deploy the gifts of the over 3,000 members of a dynamic organization such as the Royal Bahamas Police Force. In your Deputy Commissioner and Assistant Commissioners you have an abundance of talent and experience at the helm of your executive management team.

Along with your good self, the country enjoys a highly-trained leadership core in the Force, with extensive policing skills, broad educational and professional accomplishments, considerable international exposure and experience, and an impressive range of gifts which complement each other.

The Bahamian people should know that this relatively youthful but seasoned and tested team is world class, with combined experience in virtually every area of policing. These are men with good instincts and proven judgement.

In addition to policing skills, these men are also effective leaders and managers. It should also be noted that all of the members of the high command have completed the International Command Programme at Bramshill, England.

More than ever the nation will call on their instincts, judgement and managerial skills as we address an unacceptable and wrenching increase in violent crime. I am confident that they will use their native wisdom and international training to keep us safe and do us proud.

Welcome to Commissioner Greenslade

Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Commissioner Greenslade’s experience is extensive and impressive. Policing is in his blood. It is his life’s vocation. His story represents the best of who we are.

In the summer of 1979, at age 18, prior to graduating from Government High School, a young Ellison Edroy Greenslade entered the Bahamas Police Academy. Later that year, the future Commissioner won the coveted Baton of Honour after he graduated at the top of his class.

Commissioner Greenslade is the proverbial self-made man. By dint of hard work, discipline and self-improvement he steadily rose through the Force, gaining experience in multiple areas of policing and management.
He has served at just about every level of the Force from recruit constable, and enters its highest office with a deep understanding of the needs of his officers, from those patrolling our streets to those in the senior ranks. He has trained with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and possesses a variety of managerial and policing skills acquired through programmes in Britain and the US.

Having served in New Providence and as District Commander for the Northern Bahamas for seven years with responsibility for Grand Bahama, Abaco, Bimini and the Berry Islands, he knows firsthand the policing needs of our urban centres and Family Island communities.

He is also a product of our public school system and has been nurtured by our family of islands, having attended schools in Cedar Harbour, Abaco; Lovely Bay, Acklins; Kemp’s Bay, Andros; and Knowles, Cat Island.

In July 2001, after serving in a number of divisional command positions, Commissioner Greenslade joined the executive management team upon his promotion to the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police. In 2007 he was made a Senior Assistant Commissioner for Crime, Information Technology and Communications.

Our new Commissioner appreciates the value of higher education. He holds a postgraduate certificate in police management and criminal justice from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, an MBA Degree from the University of Miami, where he graduated with honours, and is currently a doctoral candidate in organizational management and leadership.

He is an extraordinary example to both his junior officers and young Bahamians. When he advises our youth to “be no fool and stay in school”, he speaks with authority.

Commissioner: We are proud of you and your accomplishments. You are suited by temperament and experience to assume the command of Her Majesty’s Royal Bahamas Police Force during this stage of our national development. It was my honour to advise the Governor General to appoint you as the sixth Commissioner of Police since independence.

The Context of Crime

Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen, Fellow Bahamians:

Crime and its causes are complex and varied. Violent crime continues to haunt many countries, near and far, including our Caribbean neighbours. Urban centres, such as Nassau and Freeport are particularly vulnerable to certain crimes that have accompanied rapid urbanization.

Rapid globalization, including increased international trade has resulted in the transshipment of not only goods, but also of guns, illicit drugs and illegal immigrants.

While we must continue to uphold those old time values which never go out of fashion, we must accept that the challenges posed by urbanization and globalization will not yield to outdated ideas that are no longer possible in a modern society. Nor will they yield to posturing and clichés.

Just as crime and its causes are complex, our responses, likewise, must be multifaceted, involving long-term strategies and timely measures in the medium and short term. Our strategies must take into account individual behaviour and social conditions.

While crime is prevented, fostered or responded to within a specific context, criminals and perpetrators of violence must be held accountable for their actions.

Whatever the deficiencies in the socialization process one may experience at home, everyone should be clear about a basic expectation and the policy of this Government: All are expected to abide by acceptable standards of public behaviour and legal conduct both at home and outside of our homes.

To criminals and would-be criminals: If you desire to take advantage of the opportunities our society offers, your country is willing to help. But you must take the initiative in accessing these opportunities. It is a lazy, unmanly and, yes, an unpatriotic copout to use your family or social conditions or personal failings as an excuse for criminal violence against your kin and community.

As someone who rose from disadvantage to take advantage of the possibilities of our land, I speak primarily from personal experience and not just from the office I am now privileged to hold. Poverty and social disadvantage are not barriers to becoming Prime Minister of the Bahamas or Commissioner of Police; nor are they barriers to advancement in other areas of national life.

Moreover, the state is not anyone’s parent. But if you choose to act irresponsibly, the state will treat you with the response you deserve. This applies to those with criminal intent, those who abuse children, spouses, partners and our elders, as well as those who use violence to settle conflicts, including within our schools.

In addition to what I have just said, we must acknowledge that individual misconduct is often reinforced by certain group behaviour and poor social norms which may help to feed a culture of criminality.

As my administration steadfastly confronts the big issues with regard to crime and its causes, we will also increasingly address other mindsets and behaviour of which criminal ideas and enterprise often take advantage, and in which they feel at home.

In recognition of what has proved effective in a number of other urban centres, including New York City, my Government is fixing the small things and will address those smaller infractions which help to perpetuate a culture increasingly indifferent to or comfortable with a disregard for the rule of law.

Towards this end, we have turned the slogan of “Clean, Green and Pristine” into a reality through a sustained island-wide clean-up and beautification of New Providence. This is a part of a broader effort to make our urban capital more liveable while fostering self-respect and civic pride.

It should also be a matter of basic self-respect and civic pride that we abide by the traffic rules and courtesies on our own roads the same way we do on the I-95 and other thoroughfares in the US.

Reckless, inconsiderate and illegal road behaviour reinforces an attitude of disregard for traffic laws specifically and other basic norms in general. Both the Police and the Department of Road Traffic have been charged with more aggressively enforcing our traffic rules.

The corruption too many indulge in and tolerate in the private and public sectors also helps to feed a culture of criminality. If a criminal shouldn’t “tief” a citizen’s money or television, it cannot be okay for a citizen to “tief” from an employer or from the Public Treasury. Accordingly, my Government continues its effort to root out public sector corruption. Each of us has a moral obligation and a civic duty to ensure that we are not adding to a culture of lawlessness in which the violent criminal is encouraged.

It is justice that is supposed to be blind and steadfast, not the citizens of a country turning a blind eye, winking and nodding at criminal behaviour. Most seriously, this applies to those who by omission or commission or clever evasion aid and abet serious criminals.

Some Critical Responses to Crime

Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Violent crime is wounding our national spirit and international image. It is destroying lives and poisoning our national soul.

We must and will respond with every means necessary: through economic empowerment and social policy, through micro-initiatives such as character education and community service, and through proven alternative sentencing and restorative justice programmes.

But all of these efforts combined will never be sufficient. And they are not sufficient now in dealing with those who terrorize society with their blatant disregard for life and property, creating a climate of fear and anxiety.

So we must deal with the accused and criminals, effectively, efficiently, consistently, timely and within the law.

In this regard, a critical area in which my Government is taking urgent action is in the criminal justice system. In particular we are responding to the increase in crime following decisions of the courts as to the maximum time an accused may spend on remand before being granted bail.

A criminal out on bail committing new and often vicious crimes is unacceptable to law-abiding citizens. It frustrates the police. It mocks the criminal justice system and our way of life.

In response, my Government will facilitate increasing as quickly as possible the number of judges, magistrates, courtrooms, legal officers and support staff to surmount a lengthy backload of cases.

Further, this calendar year will see the introduction of electronic bracelets and monitoring of serious offenders on bail. In fairly short order my Government will announce expanded measures to confront the number of armed and dangerous offenders on bail. To those criminals who believe that the courts’ decision was a get-out-of-jail card and a licence to continue their nefarious careers I say: you are sadly mistaken.

Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Along with the strengthening of our criminal justice system, we must continue to fortify and strengthen our Police Force. This is why my Government has made considerable investments in material and manpower, providing the tools and conditions of service needed to professionalize the Royal Bahamas Police Force.

Today’s ceremony represents a further and considerable strengthening in terms of a new high command. I have already given Commissioner Greenslade a private charge as to what this Government and the Bahamian people expect of him and his senior officers.

Towards this end, you will have noticed the increased pedestrian and vehicular patrol by police. It is a part of a broader crime-prevention and crime-fighting strategy the Commissioner has already begun to deploy prior to today’s ceremony. The Force will be aided by technology that was set to be deployed prior to his assuming this office, including the utilization of a CCTV system in various areas.

Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, Senior Assistant and Assistant Commissioners: I also have a public charge. Sometimes the values of integrity and loyalty, which are a part of your motto, often seem to conflict. This is where the third virtue in your motto – courage — is tested.

You must not only model the ethical conduct required by your oath and expected of you by your fellow officers and the Bahamian people; you must also have the courage to insist that loyalty to the Force does not include a tolerance for side-stepping or ignoring the demands of integrity.

The loyalty that we expect includes a commitment to personal and professional ethics by you and the men and women you lead. While by law you have certain powers, much of your authority will come from how you conduct yourself in office, and how you inspire others to do likewise. You will be greatly assisted in your efforts by the coming into force today of the new Police Force Act.

Conclusion

Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Continuity and change is not only about passing the baton to the Commissioner. As importantly, it concerns the renewal of the mission of the Force and adopting new approaches to policing.

It also concerns the need for a greater acknowledgement of the role we must all play in terms of crime prevention and crime fighting, and the reduction of violence.

These new approaches must be accompanied by traditional values such as a respect for the rule of law and professionalism by those charged with leading the Royal Bahamas Police Force.

The mutual obligation of every generation is to cherish continuity while embracing change. We must find the right balance in our time, and in this case with regard to the levels of crime, violence and incivility in our young independent Bahamas.

The officers of the Royal Bahamas Police Force are our husbands and wives, our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters. They are our friends and neighbours. And they are daily on the frontlines of a national security landscape which challenges us all and requires our active participation.

Just before Christmas, hundreds of Bahamians came out to the Beat Retreat in Rawson Square. There, in fine form, members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force displayed their colours and their training, cheered on by a thrilled crowd.

That crowd and the Bahamian people have great respect for the Police, and the officers in the Retreat must have felt that respect. This mutual connection between the Police and our citizens must be constantly renewed.

It is renewed by police officers being worthy of this respect and by the general public supporting the difficult work of the Force as we, together, combat crime and its causes on every front.

Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I thank you for your attention and ask for your prayers and support for the new Commissioner and new leadership of the Royal Bahamas Police Force.

  • I heard that there was another muurder in the capital.We need to pray,we need to pray to make it today.