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A potentially dangerous and explosive situation

Published: Oct 25, 2013

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Dear Editor

The police union, which is known as and called a staff association, has taken up a lot of media space for the better part of this year. First was an election and its results; secondly, there was a row over missing funds; thirdly, there was a clarion call for the resignation of its president; fourthly, there was a report of a vote of no confidence and the replacement of the president with an inspector.

Things seemed to have gone quiet for a short period. All during this period the crime situation was spiraling out of control; but there was nothing in the media about the union coming forward with any suggestions to assist in the solution of the crisis. I think, therefore, that it is safe to assume that the union’s Inspector Dwight Smith was of the view that solving the crime situation was the sole responsibility of the commissioner of police and the minister of national security. He may have been right. Who knows? The powers that be came up with a plan to combat the problem, they implemented the plan and lo and behold, it got positive results.

The wider spectrum of the electorate in this archipelago called The Bahamas supports the minister and our dedicated commissioner of police in their efforts to minimize and/or eradicate crime in this nation. According to an article on the front page of the Tuesday, October 22, 2013 Nassau Guardian, Smith was quoted as saying, “The Police Staff Association will not back down on its threat to take legal action on the 12-hour shift over compensation.”

I would have thought that if this entity was an association formed to look after the welfare and concerns of the subordinate ranks in the force, then all of their concerns should have been forwarded to the commissioner who would have brought it to the attention of the relevant government authority for a resolution in the event that he was unable to deal with it. It is also reported that Smith said that the commissioner needs to be reminded that the association is governed by the staff association act. Smith is also quoted as saying, “I can’t be dictated to either. My authority comes under chapter 206. That is where I get my directives. I have to represent the officers. His position is appointed and mine is an elected one.”

I will like to remind Smith that the commissioner of police’s position is a constitutional appointment and as head of the police force, he has the sole responsibility for its administration and control of every segment of it. Smith’s statement in reference to the commissioner amounts to blatant insubordination and it is vital to the enforcement of discipline in that organization that he, Smith, be dealt with disciplinarily in short order.

As for his threat to take the government to court, that is a clarion call to the government to immediately review that act and make the necessary amendments to ensure that it is an association and not a labor union. Also, make it crystal clear that there is only one commissioner with absolute authority for the force. Some people become intoxicated with imaginary power when given a position of authority and act without reason. Law enforcement is not a job, but a profession which requires a standard of professionalism at all times. You are there to protect life and property, enforce the laws of the nation, preserve the peace and not to gripe about being tired, hungry and for compensation for doing your duty.

Leaders should follow protocol and remember their positions on the totem pole of authority in the Royal Bahamas Police Force.

— Errington W. I. Watkins


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