Minister of National Security Hon. O.A.T. “Tommy” Turnquest (centre, in suit) inspects the parade during the Royal Bahamas Police Reserve Graduation Ceremony Passing-out Parade of Reserve Squad “D” on December 7, 2007, at Police Training College. Behind him is Acting Commissioner of Police Reginald Ferguson. (Photos Patrick Hanna)
By: Matt Maura
NASSAU, The Bahamas — Two hundred and five Reserve Recruits from 10 islands, including New Providence, Abaco, Acklins, Andros, Cat Island, Crooked Island, Eleuthera, Exuma, Rum Cay and San Salvador, joined the ranks of the Royal Bahamas Police Force Reserves Friday afternoon (December 7, 2007), following graduation exercises at the Royal Bahamas Police Training College.
Minister of National Security the Hon. O.A.T. “Tommy” Turnquest said the addition of Family Island Reserve Recruits to the rank and file of the Royal Bahamas Police Force Reserves “will allow for greater cost effectiveness and a more efficient administration within the Force” as those officers will be able to serve their Tours of Duty on the islands in which they live.
The new Entry increased the number of men and women who serve on the voluntary Force to 1,150.
Mr. Turnquest said the Reserve Force will continue to be an integral part of the short and long-term strategic planning for law enforcement in The Bahamas with regards to “keeping our communities and societies safe.”
He said reserve police officers can expect that the concerns they have expressed with respect to transparency and fairness, merit-based promotions, clear policies and procedures and payment for reasonable expenses, including travel expenses from the Family Islands, will be taken into full account as the Government meets its undertaking to the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
The Government, he said, will also keep its pledge to provide special focus on improving the terms and conditions of work of the Force, including matters regarding salary and insurance.
“It is inspiring and a source of pride that we graduate Reserve Police Officers from our Family Islands including Abaco, Acklins, Andros, Cat Island, Crooked Island, Eleuthera, Exuma, Rum Cay and San Salvador,” Mr. Turnquest said.
“We will look to you to be part of our visible and active police presence in our communities; we will look to you to build partnerships within the community and to galvanize community support for the work of the Police; we will expect you to respect and be respected by the communities in which you serve.
“I urge you to be of impeccable character, honest and transparent, so that the finger of corruption is never pointed at you,” Mr. Turnquest added.
The National Security Minister said the reserve officers have joined the voluntary Force at a time when crime and criminality have placed the country in an unpredictable position “in the very complex, global society in which we live.”
Mr. Turnquest said he often wonders if those Bahamians who are intent on a life of crime and deviant behaviour “understand fully what they are doing to our country and to the livelihood and quality of life for their families, friends and fellow citizens.”
“Investors and visitors alike can, and will, seek alternative destinations if they have a sense of insecurity about The Bahamas,” Mr. Turnquest said. “This has serious repercussions for our important tourism, banking and other service industries.”
The crime and criminality challenges facing The Bahamas cannot be addressed in isolation and cannot be resolved through policing alone, Mr. Turnquest said.
“We must, as individuals, societies, communities and country, revisit our priorities and seek to set them straight,” he added. “This is an exercise for national application. It is an exercise in which communities are being engaged, particularly through the Neighborhood Community Policing Programme.”
Mr. Turnquest said law enforcement officials in The Bahamas must be “forward-looking and forward-moving” to counter crime and criminality. He told the graduates that the Royal Bahamas Police Force Reserves have, for more than four decades, featured prominently in the strategies and policies for policing in The Bahamas and that they will follow likewise.
“We salute the Reserves for the service they render in our police stations, on our streets and in our communities throughout our country. We appreciate you for your dedication in taking risks so that we may all be safer and more secure. We thank your families for the sacrifices they make when you are not present on holidays and for special gatherings and we commend you for standing side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder with the Regular Officers of the Royal Bahamas Police Force and in helping the Force to accomplish its objectives,” Mr. Turnquest added.
The National Security Minister said the Reserve Force can expect the full support of the Government in their work as the Government “fully supports” the development of a modern and effective Royal Bahamas Police Force, which includes the Royal Bahamas Police Reserves.