Police officers lacking professionalism, says minister

Police officers lacking professionalism, says minister
Minister of National Security, Marvin Dames.

Consistent training needed

National Security Minister Marvin Dames said Tuesday that a consistent neglect of training within the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF), has led to a decline in the level of professionalism in which officers currently carry out their duties.

As such, an overhaul of the entire force is expected within the coming months, Dames said.

“We have neglected training in our law enforcement organizations for many years. It cannot be that if you are moving toward a higher level of professionalism that you have no training,” Dames lamented.

He continued, “We want to change the face of policing. So, our focus is on education, it’s on training, career development and succession planning. These are the foundation blocks that we are building on.”

According to Dames, Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson will travel to the United States (U.S.) over the next two weeks for consultation with international law enforcement training institutions.

These meetings will provide local law enforcement officials with access to new material, which he said, will be added to the RBPF training manual.

“It is no longer acceptable for our officers to be out on the streets having issues while making arrests or not knowing how to engage members of the public,” he said.

“We hear cries from the public from time to time that when they encounter police officers, its usually not a pleasant experience, and we want to change that.”

The RBPF is also partnering with the University of The Bahamas (UB), to provide officers with access to special courses for overall personal development.

“We want to ensure that the officers, who take command of divisions throughout The Bahamas, are well equipped in business management, human resources and well equipped all around. In the end, they will be more than just ‘officers,” he insisted.

The RBPF has completed its manpower audit. Once released, he said, the comprehensive document is expected to provide a full picture of the issues which have plagued the organization and what the force intends to do to fix them.

New car fleet on the way

Dames also confirmed that the first installment of the new vehicles will soon be on the island.

“We are going to have police cars and three-wheeler vehicles for public areas such as Downtown. We will also have ATV’s for beach patrols and things of that nature, to give officers more access to carry out their duties,” he shared.

Once they arrive, the force must look into better ways to maintain its fleet, he said.

“We now need to look into introducing a proper fleet management system that ensures better accountability of our vehicles,” he said.

“We are no longer at that place where there is an open chest of money and you just take from it whenever people don’t take care of the resources that they have. We intend to do a better job and we intend to work with the police to ensure that we get a longer life out of these vehicles.”

Over $5 million has been spent on the new fleet of vehicles, according to the minister.

He recently revealed in the House of Assembly that only 24 per cent of the RBPF fleet of cars were in operation.

The remaining 76 per cent, he said, have been frequently out-of-service due to frequent mechanical issues.

The alarming revelation raised many questions regarding the productivity of the police force.

“We have been looking at ways to sure up what we have and looking at getting those cars which are currently in the garage, out,” he said.

“We are working with what we have. It’s all a matter of being strategic. We have a look at better ways of maintaining our fleet continue to work with what we have.”