Police Commissioner Paul Farquharson says his Force will maximize the use of all of its human and other resources, including its Regular and Reserve Forces, to guarantee “safety and peacefulness” before, during and after the upcoming General Elections.
Addressing the Royal Bahamas Police Force Reserve Constables Conclave held Saturday (February 3, 2007) at the Police Cafeteria, Police Headquarters, Commissioner Farquharson said the 2007 election campaign promises to be as vibrant, active and challenging as those in the past.
Commissioner Farquharson said while The Bahamas has been fortunate to have a population that has historically approached General Elections without violence, his officers will approach this election season with strategic planning and training and will “be prepared for all incidents that relate to public nuisance and disturbance.”
The Commissioner said the Reserve Force is expected to play an integral role in the elections as part of the overall strategic plan. He said the Reserves will be called upon to man Police Stations in the absence of the Regulars who will be called to duty elsewhere within The Bahamas.
“It is expected that officers will utilize their training in public order and crowd control so as to prevent or minimize any disruptions at political rallies and polling stations,” Commissioner Farquharson said.
“We must and will ensure that voters are not subjected to fear or any form of intimidation. No form of anarchy will be tolerated and such behavior is non-negotiable,” he said.
Commissioner Farquharson said his Force has been preparing for the 2007 General Elections since 2006, during which time senior commanders and middle managers attended numerous seminars and meetings held to plan for the upcoming elections.
Those sessions covered topics such as the role and authority of the Parliamentary Registration Department; the electoral process and procedures; public order and enforcement of all laws under the Parliamentary Registration Act and limitations and obligations of the Police before, during and after the election period.
Commissioner Farquharson said the Force will work in collaboration with the Parliamentary Registration Department to ensure a “peaceful election season.”
He said this will be achieved through a number of schemes and mechanisms, including the use of effective public order strategies centred on crowd control and the maintenance of orderly conduct at all political events and maintaining a zero tolerance approach to all crime-related incidents through the establishment of a special investigation unit for this purpose.
Additional measures will include ensuring the safe arrival and departure of all ballot boxes; conducting briefings relating to the responsibilities of the Police during the election period and ensuring the welfare of each officer is given priority during this period.
“Every soul, every Reservist, will have to be up and about to make sure that the citizens of this country exercise that particular right and privilege that we exercise once every five years,” Commissioner Farquharson said.
“We owe it to the citizens of The Bahamas to ensure that they have a safe and peaceful election process regardless of where they live in this Commonwealth of The Bahamas,” he added.