PSA: Officers in Abaco in “survival mode”

PSA: Officers in Abaco in “survival mode”
Chairman of the Police Staff Association, Sonny Miller

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — While officers deployed to Abaco in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian are committed to the task of ensuring safety and security despite challenged conditions, Police Station Association (PSA) President Sonny Miller said those officers continue to work in “survival mode”.

The island was decimated by the storm nearly two months ago, and portions of the island remain desolate.

During the search and rescue effort in the immediate aftermath of the storm, officers were deployed to Abaco in a one-week rotation, according to Miller, who said the deployment period for officers has since been extended to one-month intervals.

Miller said he understands officers will rotate every three months next year.

He said in some instances officers have had to sleep on the floor of homes the Royal Bahamas Police Force and government has rented.

While commending Police Commissioner Anthony Ferguson’s efforts to accommodate officers and make living conditions more comfortable, Miller asked the government to consider officers as it ramps up recovery and restoration efforts in the impacted zones.

“I can tell you that the police force and the government has rented a couple of houses that they had fixed up,” he told Eyewitness News Online.

“The officers are throughout Abaco in the settlements. I got a report out of Cooper’s Town yesterday and I got one from another settlement and I can tell you that things on the outer settlements are improving. It is not as bad as in Marsh Harbour where some of the officers find themselves sleeping on the floor and having to tout water and stuff like that.

“I can tell you when everyone else is allowed to leave, we remain there and our colleagues from the defense force who does not have an association, remain. So, you find me from time to time mention them because we are not going to leave them behind. They are on the ground with our troops as well. So, for us it’s like really survival mode and even though the commissioner is trying to make it as comfortable as possible, it is not happening right now.”

Miller insisted that officers have not complained, but continue to make the PSA aware.

“When everyone else leaves and runs for cover, our members along with our brothers from the defense force must remain and must maintain law and order,” he said.

“It would be good, it would be excellent, for the government to be reminded of that, especially when it comes to compensation for it. Of course, I can tell you based on all the reports that things are improving, but it’s still not up to living standards, especially in Marsh Harbour for the members who go down there.

“We don’t cry. We don’t complain. We just bring it to the persons in authority and make them aware that we know and we expect changes. Of course, we know we have to be there. I want to highlight the efforts of the commissioner seeking to have officers compensated for their efforts because there is nothing in Abaco. There is no bank, you barely have running water.

In Parliament Tuesday, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said he will never stop thanking the many public officers, police and defense force officers for their “hard work and good work they are doing in very difficult circumstances”.

He noted that the defense force established a container city in Abaco.

The site in Dundas Town serves as the operational base for the defense force and acts as part of the command and control structure on the island.

It also prepared 700 meals per day for defense and police force officers, as well as government workers on the island, according to Minnis.

The prime minister said the base had also established an reverse osmosis plant capable of producing 1,000 gallons of water per day.

“Defence Force and police officers, nurses, doctors, family island administrator and other public officers and private citizens were on the frontlines saving lives,” Minnis said.

“These Bahamian heroes, who I commended on National Heroes Day put their lives at risk in the service of others. In many instances they did not know the people they helped. The lived up to the highest virtues of faith and of citizenship, assisting neighbors and strangers so desperately in need.