Mitchell: Police audit report must be reviewed with ‘an analytical eye’

PLP Senator Fred Mitchell.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman, Fred Mitchell, on Friday expressed serious concerns about the commentary that has ensued from the tabled police reserves audit report, which casted a negative light on the organization.

Mitchell told Eyewitness News Online that the report and the comments in the public domain has done a disservice to reserve officers.

“Some of the commentary, which came out of the report, and some of the comments which came as a result of that commentary, seems to be reflected poorly on people who dedicate their service to help make the police force work well. I don’t want to be a part of any effort, nor the PLP, where you’re just piling on people who are giving good service,” Mitchell said.

He also indicated that the audit report needs to be reviewed with an analytical eye and should not be accepted as it is presented.

“One thing I don’t want to do with any of these reports, which emanate from the government or anywhere, is to adopt whatever the report says uncritically.

“I think we have to read the report, see how it was based, where the evidence is, and then you’ve got to hear the other side because everything is not always as it appears at first blush. And so, I’d be very cautious in adopting whatever was said there.”

The audit into the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s (RBPF) reservist branch revealed that there was a practice of retired officers re-enlisting in the reserves program and retaining their rank or being promoted to higher ranks “without justification or standardization”.

According to the audit, for the past decade, reserves have been allowed to work up to 150 hours per month, and in any given year, 1,800 hours, up 837 percent from the allotted hours provided by the Police Act.

For a reserve officer with the rank of assistant commissioner of police, at the subsistence rate allotted of $12 per hours, he or she would earn $1,800 per month or $21,600 per year.

The Police Act notes that police reserves were required to work an average of four hours per week throughout the year, with an entitlement of four weeks’ vacation per year; and not reserve officer should engage in police duties for more than eight hours on any given day except where necessary to manage an operational contingency.

Reservist officers were paid a combined $5.73 million in 2014/2015 and $5 million in 2015/2016.