Rights Bahamas condemns COP “excuses” on police abuse

Rights Bahamas condemns COP “excuses” on police abuse
Still image taken from a video recording purporting to show officers beating men at Woodes Rogers Walk during the New Year's Day Junkanoo Parade.

Group tells Ferguson: “Leaders should lead”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Human rights organization Rights Bahamas blasted Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson over his assertion that the level of police brutality and misconduct is linked to poor parenting and dishonesty referrals.

In a recent statement, the group said Ferguson’s comments represent an “excuse for and an indication of a lazy RBPF training policy”.

The Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) has been placed under the spotlight for a series of videos circulating on social media, which purport to show several officers beating men at the New Year’s Junkanoo Parade.

The incident prompted an internal investigation.                            .

Speaking to the media Tuesday on the matter, Ferguson said: “We only could give you what you give us.”

But Right Bahamas argued officers are human and should not be expected to handle the heavy toll of their jobs, especially when they have not been provided with “basic mental health assistance and compassion training”.

“Our officers are real-life heroes, but they are still human being and as such must be provided proper training to deal with members of the public compassionately,” it said.

The group called for the police commissioner and Minister of National Security Marvin Dames to expeditiously review training policies for officers to ensure a priority is placed on compassion and competent communication skills.

“Police officers are exposed to heinous crimes on a day-to-day basis,” Right Bahamas said.

“Therefore, we believe it is imperative they receive support and/or training to prevent them from the unavoidable desensitization that comes with the job.

“It is also important that RBPF make available training to improve the interpersonal skills of officers so that they are able to quickly identify disabled persons — both mental and physically — and are able to assist as necessary.”

In December, the government appointed a Police Complaints Inspectorate chaired by attorney Tanya McCartney to review the complaints lodged with the Complaints and Corruption Branch of the police force.

Rights Bahamas said the results of the inspectorate’s reviews should be made public.

The group also said the commissioner should take responsibility for the actions of his officers.

“How can the country feel safe when the head of law enforcement would rather blame parents for the acts their children commit while serving the Bahamian people?” the group asked.

“If the prime minister is expected to take responsibility for the actions of his Cabinet and members of this government, then you should do the same.

“That’s what leaders do; they lead.”

About Royston Jones Jr.

Royston Jones Jr. is a senior digital reporter and occasional TV news anchor at Eyewitness News. Since joining Eyewitness News as a digital reporter in 2018, he has done both digital and broadcast reporting, notably providing the electoral analysis for Eyewitness News’ inaugural election night coverage, “Decision Now 2021”.