|Bell accuses former govt of corrupting police force|
Guardian Senior Reporter
Published: Aug 10, 2012
Minister of State for National Security Keith Bell yesterday accused the Ingraham administration of “institutionalizing corruption” within the Royal Bahamas Police Force during its term in office.
Bell, a former police officer, criticized the former government for its decision to send Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade and former Deputy Commissioner Marvin Dames out of the country for training and appoint Reginald Ferguson as police chief in 2009.
At the time, Greenslade was acting deputy commissioner and Dames was a senior assistant commissioner.
Bell also hit out at the Ingraham administration for “firing” seasoned police officers and then passing legislation that limited the terms of the commissioner and deputy commissioner to a maximum of two five-year terms.
Bell’s comments came as he contributed to debate in the Senate on a bill to eliminate those term limits.
He said that in order to pursue their own selfish means, officials of the former administration sent the two top eligible police officers for the post of commissioner off to Canada on what they called developmental training and fact finding courses.
“And ‘Papa’ (former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham) appointed the brother of the then FNM chairman to the top post,” Bell said.
Ferguson is the brother of former chairman Johnley Ferguson.
“That wasn’t enough,” Bell added. “A substantial number of top lawmen received what has become known in the police force as the package — sent them home with no regards, fired.
“As if this wasn’t enough, the FNM administration then resurrected the police bill and inserted this provision that we are now seeking to repeal.
“If the Bahamian people fully understand the nature and extent of this — I quite frankly call it institutionalized corruption.”
The amendments passed by the former government made it possible for the commissioner and deputy commissioner to serve shorter terms in office as determined by the governor general, acting on the recommendation of the prime minister after consultation with the leader of the opposition.
However, Bell said the changes went against the constitutional job protection afforded to the country’s two top officers.
“The behavior of the FNM in passing this law is inexcusable,” Bell charged. “They ought to have known better.”
Bell also criticized the Ingraham administration’s handling of crime and said criminal acts ballooned.
“Since the FNM government interfered with the force [beginning in] 2007, crime has spiraled out of control,” he said.
“By the end of 2007, crime was rising sharply. There was an 11 percent increase in major crime commission in 2007; in 2008 it rose again by 12 percent and although there was a mere decline of some three percent in 2009, this had no impact due to the sharp increases in the previous years.
“In 2010, overall crime again rose by some 13 percent and by 2011 it was [up] by some seven percent . . .anyone looking at what happened under the last five years of the Free National Movement administration raised some fundamental questions.”
Bell added that the current government’s crime fighting initiatives Operation Safe Bahamas and Urban Renewal 2.0 have yielded some results since the May election.
As he spoke, he brandished two magazine clips for AK-47 weapons, which he said were a part of the 300 illegal firearms the police confiscated this year.
“The point is this, here it is we are clearing properties, moving the space and these are the kinds of things we are finding around the place,” Bell said, referring to the derelict building demolitions Urban Renewal work crews have carried out over the last few weeks.