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Frontline officers and the new crime plan

Published: Sep 16, 2013

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Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage launched the government’s new crime plan just over a week ago. This crime plan came after a large number of murders in New Providence over a two-week period. The plan includes placing police on 12-hour shifts, adding defence force officers to take over sedentary duties police formerly performed and shifting officers from administrative roles to frontline duties.

The objective of the crime plan is to put more officers on the streets of New Providence to deter crime and to catch offenders in the act.

The Police Staff Association (PSA) initially said it was “blindsided” by the changes. The association was concerned about the amount of rest officers would receive on the shifts. After a meeting with the commissioner of police, however, the association seemed to have toned down its response to the changes. But by the end of the week the PSA was expressing further concerns that the firefighting service was being stretched too thin, as those officers – in The Bahamas police officers are firefighters – were also being called upon for frontline police duties.

The association is not a union. It does not have that legal standing or those powers. Its role is merely to represent the interests of frontline officers to the senior command and government.

The association seems to have a problem with these changes to the force despite its coy assurance that it is fine with the plan. What all officers must remember is the force is a quasi-military organization. Police officers are obliged to follow all lawful orders from the commissioner of police. It is not relevant if the orders are liked or not.

New Providence has a serious crime problem. People do not feel safe on this island because of the number of thefts, break-ins, robberies and other violent acts so many of us have endured over the past few years. In a crisis, extraordinary measures have to be taken in order to restore order. We need our frontline officers to lead the charge to help restore a sense of safety to our main island.

“I have a country where people are afraid; they are fearful,” said Nottage last week. “I have to act. I met with the commissioner of police. I met with executive management. I met with the commanders of the various divisions.

“I spelt out to them the situation as I see it, and I indicated to them steps that I intended to take after seeking advice from the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.

“The police force is a disciplined force. The PSA is an association. It is not a trade union. If we are going to have law and order, it is important for everyone to know what their role is.”

The association does not have the support of the public if its central gripe is that officers will have to work too many hours. In all professions, dedicated men and women always have to go beyond the eight-hour workday in order to strive for excellence. The leadership of the PSA should be encouraging officers to do their best during this period of emergency. It should not seek to sow seeds of discord.

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Last Updated on Monday, 16 September 2013 15:08


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