PM: State of emergency will require “great leadership, sensitivity and unity” from new commissioner
Outgoing commissioner Ferguson says new COP and his team are “ready for takeoff”
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Paul Rolle yesterday became the eighth commissioner of the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) in an independent Bahamas, marking a new era for the organization as the nation remains in public state of emergency amid the threat of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Rolle, 54, pledged to carry out his duties without fear, favor, pressure or influence as he leads the organization through this period.
He did so during a handing over ceremony at Police Headquarters on East Street, attended by Governor General CA Smith, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames, other government officials and dignitaries, and senior police officers.
Rolle received his instruments of appointment from Smith.
Rolle thanked his wife and family for their continued support, even when he considering resigning from the force after being dissatisfied with his advancement over a 15-year period.
He thanked Ferguson for his guidance and advise over the years, and wished him well in his new endeavors.
He also thanked the prime minister and governor general for the confidence reposed in him.
The new commissioner highlighted gun trafficking, the proliferation of gun violence, financial crimes and money laundering as areas of continued concern for the RBPF.
He also said the force will do its upmost to retain public trust, while acting in “firm pursuit” of lawbreakers.
“We shall discharge our duties with, courage integrity and loyalty, being ever mindful of the changing environment with a willingness to embrace just criticism and the need for change,” Rolle said.
While commending officers for their sacrifices, Rolle said he was conscious of public concern about the manner in which a minority of officers abuse their authority.
“I will along with my senior executive leadership team continue to monitor complaints and will take fair, firm and decisive action when there are grounds to take disciplinary action against any officer or member of the force,” the commissioner said.
“None of us are above the law and we must all be accountable for our actions.
“I [invite] each of you to strive to maintain the public trust and confidence.
“I encourage you all to remain steadfast in your duties and when your task becomes dangerous, hold onto your faith.
“Be honest and fair with your dealings with colleagues, members of the public and suspects.
“Your roles are oftentimes thankless, but I ask you to remain true to your calling.”
In his final address as commissioner, Anthony Ferguson, who was appointed in October 2017, said it is not the length of service that matters most, but the “impact made and the legacy left behind”.
He said: “Together, we have accomplished so much in such a short time.”
Ferguson thanked officers for their trust and commitment; the prime minister for his confidence; and the minister of national security for providing the force with the resources it needed to effectively perform its mandate.
Under the former commissioner, The Bahamas saw declines in crime and the murder count reduced in 2018 and 2019 to fewer than 100 — the first in almost a decade.
Ferguson wished Rolle an ever more successful tenure as commissioner.
“All passengers are on board; Captain Paul Rolle and his team are boarded and ready for takeoff,” he said.
The prime minister thanked the outgoing commissioner for his extraordinary and admirable service.
He said he planned to offer a “fuller expression of gratitude” at an appropriate time.
“During your nearly three-year tenure as commissioner you worked diligently to reduce crime and murder in our land after many years of an ever-increasing crime rate,” Minnis said.
“Through enhanced policing and strong command, you led the force in the reduction of crime and a more integrated and streamlined command structure.
“Through a range of innovative and vigorous policing measures, including various technological advances, you achieved what many though impossible.”
To the commissioner, the prime minister said Rolle has a great task of continuing to reduce crime in the nation.
He noted that Rolle has assumed office during a national emergency that will require “great leadership, sensitivity and unity of purpose and command”.
“The country is looking to you and to the good men and women of the Royal Bahamas Police Force to help enforce our laws and the temporary emergency measures that will help us to combat the COVID-19 threat,” the prime minister said.
“I will you well in your new command. You have my full support and that of the government of The Bahamas.”
Rolle brings a wealth of experience to the force.
He joined the force in 1983.
He served as officer in charge of the Central Detective Unit and commandant of the Police Training Academy.
He was made assistant commissioner in 2017 and established and led the Anti-Corruption Branch at its head. He rose to deputy commissioner last April.