Minister of National Security the Hon. Tommy Turnquest officially opened a new police administrative complex that will help solve the issue of a lack of space police officers had to endure at the George Town Police Headquarters.
“I really do want to thank those officers who still have to work in less than ideal circumstances,” Mr. Turnquest said at the opening ceremony last week.
He added, “We do want to thank you for your dedication to the country and for what you do in the peace and security of our island here in Exuma and our nation in general and we want to thank you police officers particularly for all that you have done.”
Mr. Turnquest noted that as a result of Exuma’s economic growth, many individuals have come to the island to find work, which has presented many challenges including that of policing the island.
Breaking down the crime statistics in Exuma, he said in 2007, there were 191 reported cases (19 crimes against the person, 123 crimes against property and 49 drug offences).
Out of those 191 cases 104 persons have been charged; 16 charged for crimes against the person, 39 charged for crimes against property and 49 charged for drug offences.
“What is encouraging,” Mr. Turnquest said, “is that when we then extrapolate those figures for the first quarter of 2008 and we see that we have no reported crimes against the person – 25 crimes against property and 15 drug offences, which relates to 15 persons being charged so far for the first quarter of 2008.
“I think those figures are necessary because when we think of the Family Islands in The Bahamas we have always seen them as idyllic, crime free places where you can leave your car keys in your car and your house door open; but we all know that as times progress that becomes less and less the case and there is more and more need for police officers and police work.”
He added that he commended the officers on the island for “what obviously is a taxing duty” and promised to continue ensuring that reasonable needs are met through additional resources, which include training reservists.
Mr. Turnquest said he believes that there is not a single police officer who will say the Royal Bahamas Police Force can operate effectively without police reservists.
“And so we do say thank you (reservists) for what you have done and we know that there are some challenges with regard to the terms and conditions in which reservists work and they are constantly under review.
He said, “But the one thing that I am glad we can point to at least in the short tenure since May 2007 is that we have been able to allow reservists to come under the umbrella of the Law Enforcement Insurance Scheme.
“I think that is a wonderful achievement because reservists in many cases work shoulder to shoulder with career officers during the particular time they are on duty and so we are happy they have been able to achieve that.”
Mr. Turnquest noted that there is no magic to effective policing.
“Policing requires community involvement to be truly effective, so while this new building sits essentially at the gateway to the George Town Harbour and at the apex of the park here in George Town, it is up to the community to adopt it, to assist in taking care of it and to work closely with the police.”
However, he said that he fully endorsed the sentiments of Acting Commissioner of Police Reginald Ferguson that there is a zero tolerance on corruption and that law enforcement officials must be beyond reproach.
Acting Commissioner Ferguson reminded the police officers that they took an oath to protect and serve the Bahamian people professionally, competently, ethically and morally.
“I must also say that this new building complements your renewed focus on being that new police officer that I constantly speak of throughout the various islands within our archipelago.
He said, “Members of our society knows that the new police officer is one whose integrity, conduct and character can never be compromised, and wears the uniform and badge of the police force with respect and dignity.”
The new complex consists of a reception area, multi-purpose conference room, Police Reserve Section and an enlarged holding facility to house individuals charged with breaking the law.