NASSAU, BAHAMAS – After a video of a Royal Bahamas Police Force officer slapping a man went viral over the weekend, Rights Bahamas has called on Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson and Minister of National Security Marvin Dames to take immediate action.
“We urge you to reprimand this behavior and publicly apologize to the people of The Bahamas as this matter has affected all of us,” outlined a statement released Sunday by Dawrin Thompson, Education Committee Chairman of Rights Bahamas.
“We need to know that our best interests are at heart. The only way is to show us through your positive action against matters of this nature. We also call on the Director of public prosecutions to independently investigate this matter and have the officer charged with assault if the evidence supports this.”
Thompson said the video highlights one of society’s most fatal flaws, and is a testament to the validity of the public’s lack of trust in governmental systems and processes.
The video starts with shaky footage of the side-walk as the officer can be seen communicating with an alleged tourist on vacation. As the gentleman is given his passport, he pulls it quickly out of the officer’s hands, and is then slapped in the face by the officer.
Rights Bahamas said when an officer can be so comfortable to physically assault an alleged tourist in a nation that relies heavily on tourism to employ thousands of its citizens, something is clearly wrong.
“This practice is considered a norm among citizens all throughout our country. We should ask ourselves ‘Why’. Why is it a socially accepted norm to be assaulted by those tasked with protecting our civil rights?
“Are our officers being trained to instill fear via methods of social intimidation? In the year 2018 why are we sitting idly by when matters of this nature are so commonly accepted?
“Ask anybody on the street where they stand as it relates to trusting the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the most common answer will be ‘never in my life’.
“But, why is this the case? To put it simply, there are a few bad apples that ruin the good efforts of the many.”
Thompson said there are many officers within the RBPF that work hard every day to ensure that the citizens of this nation are safe and well protected. To these officers, Thompson said they wish to provide their full support and gratitude as they take on daily feats that the average person would never think of attempting.
“You put your lives on the line to ensure that your fellow Bahamians are safe, and for that you deserve the greatest of praise,” Thompson said. “However, the few that spoil the reputation of an entire police force should see the brunt of social ridicule and disgust.
“You take up an oath to serve and to protect, and rather than do so you present your colleagues with the difficult task of dealing with a public that does not trust the police.”
And to those officers that are doing their best everyday to ensure safety, Thompson said, “We salute you. You should know that our support lies with you, and you are not alone. Thank you, for upholding your oath to protecting the citizens of this great nation.”
Meanwhile a senior police official on Sunday confirmed that they are in possession of that video and an investigation will follow.