|Keith Bell condemns Ingraham on police shooting comments|
Royston Jones Jr.
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Jul 21, 2012
Minister of State for National Security Keith Bell yesterday said he was “disheartened” and “deeply shocked” by former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham’s recent criticism of Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade, as well as questions raised about the increase in police involved shootings.
Speaking to the recent increase, Ingraham said even though there is a serious crime problem in The Bahamas, the police should not be allowed to operate outside the law; although he did not claim that police have done anything wrong.
The Nassau Guardian’s examination of daily crime reports revealed that police involved shootings are up 37.5 percent for the second quarter of 2012, compared to the first quarter.
“You have a right to shoot when you are threatened,” Ingraham said. “You don’t have a right to willy nilly go and shoot somebody.”
In response, Bell said he was surprised by the position Ingraham took, having been “armed with all the facts” in his capacity as prime minister.
“Everyday we call upon these very same police officers to risk their lives” Bell said. “From the 1960s to the current day we have had in excess of 30 police officers who have been executed in the line of duty and we have even had officers who were off-duty killed by virtue of them being a police officer.
“We know that for a fact...we have had former officers killed. For the former prime minister to make such a reckless statement like that is amazing to me, and I condemn him for it.”
Executive Chairman of the Police Staff Association Sergeant Darrell Weir, who declined to respond directly to comments made by the former prime minister, said he believes officers have used good judgement when discharging firearms.
“Society has changed and we are encountering a lot of criminals out there who are carrying high powered weapons,” said Weir at the PSA’s Bank Lane headquarters yesterday.
Ingraham also took Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade to task during that press conference for what he said was his adoption of a new tone as it relates to the Urban Renewal program, since the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) came into office.
The commissioner touted the success of Urban Renewal 2.0 when he spoke with reporters at police headquarters on East Street on Monday.
However, Bell said Ingraham’s comments were “utter rubbish” given the well known character and integrity of the commissioner.
Weir, who refused to delve into the political war of words yesterday, and said the PSA is “wholeheartedly” behind the commissioner.
Weir also urged members of the public to also support the commissioner as he carries out his duties.