NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Royal Bahamas Police Force said yesterday that it has had to change its process and protocols for military funerals due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement, the RBPF responded to criticisms from the family of the late Sergeant Jefferson Kemp over the perceived lack of support received from the agency in the aftermath of the fallen officer’s death in October.
In a voice note that made the rounds on social media, Kemp’s sister expressed disappointment in officials not showing up for her brother’s funeral on Friday, suggesting there was a “boycott by the police” of the funeral.
However, the RBPF noted that a meeting was held with Kemp’s family after his death and the funeral and benefits processes were explained.
It advised that after a funeral at Woodlawn Gardens cemetery sparked public criticisms, the commissioner of police made a request to the competent authority to hold military rites for Assistant Commissioner Willard Cunningham, Sergeants Cedric Sears and Kemp.
However, none of the requests were approved by the competent authority and the families were advised accordingly, according to the statement.
The funeral service, which was live-streamed on the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s Facebook page in September, was held in honor of the late Corporal Portia Lewis-Bain.
Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle invited the Cunningham and Sears families to police headquarters last Tuesday to present them with the Bahamian flag and extended his final condolences.
Rolle has extended the same invitation to Kemp’s family at 11am today.
“The commissioner of police regrets that due to the coronavirus, changes had to be made to the usual process and protocols for military funerals,” the statement read.
“He along with members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force appreciate the disappointment those changes may cause to families of fallen officers.
“The commissioner of police and members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force appreciate the service of all officers who serve their country and stand ready to assist all families of our fallen officers.
“We wish to assure the members of the public that we in no way wish to add further hurt to any loss as these officers are our friends and family as well.
“As we seek to create safer communities, the Royal Bahamas Police Force will continue to deliver our services as a resourceful and professional police force.”