Being a Police officer must be a tough job. As I wrote in an article entitled Friend or Foe last year, sometimes it seems as if the police are damned if they do and damned if they don’t, Because they get criticized regardless.
I know that there is a certain element who are anti-authority and hate the police, but I believe for the most part sensible right thinking Bahamians want to support the Royal Bahamas Police Force. After all they are responsible for protecting us from criminals.
The problem is when those police officers, who suppose to be protecting us are the very same ones violating our rights.
We want to support them, but we can not look past the numerous incidents of police brutality, incompetence and in some cases corrupt behavior.
To be clear, I’m not accusing all police officers of having these traits, but there have been enough documented cases and anecdotal evidence to suggest that certain behaviors are widespread and acceptable in the RBPF.
For Example, It is wide-spread knowledge that the police often beat prisoners. You’ve seen the men limping to court with bruises all over their faces, you’ve probably heard the stories of police beatings and the type of tactics they use so as to not leave telltale marks on the body.
Numerous cases, including murder cases have been thrown out because the Judge ruled that a confession was given under duress… meaning as a result of police beating and/or torture tactics.
I know that there are those among us that support this type of police behavior, but we have to pay a heavy price because of it. On the one hand criminals are walking free because they can claim police brutality and on the other innocent people are being violated.
Take the case of The Darling Family;
I came across Sherice Darling’s post on the RBPF’s Facebook Page and invited her to share her story on my Straight Talk Bahamas fan page
Reese’s Husband went out to get something out of the family car one evening, when Mrs. Darling looked out of the window her husband was being choked, punched and stepped on by several members of the Rapid Strike Unit. She ran out to stop them but they didn’t listen, instead cussing her out. They arrested him, when she showed up to the station, they cussed her some more and also arrested her. She had a 8-year-old son and niece with her, when they refused to leave (after all they were underage) a police officers roughed up and went to slap the child. Yes according to Ms. Darling they were going to slap an 8-year-old boy.
Now to be honest, I can almost guess what happened; The Rapid Strike Unit on patrol, sees a man in a car in a dark car port in a poor area, and assumes he’s breaking into the car. They jump out and start to beat on him and it goes down hill from there.
If they had simply arrested him as they are mandated to do, the whole incident could’ve been cleared up with a conversation, instead they came out in attack mode and an innocent man and his family were traumatized.
If you visit the RBPF page on Facebook, you will see numerous post by people complaining about rogue police officers. There is even a page on Facebook that chronicles the incidents of Police brutality over the years.
We want to support the Police but its hard to overlook these incidents when there are so many and seemingly nothing is being done about this type of behavior. Complaints are made, and you never hear the results. The C.O.P comes out and say they are being dealt with but that’s simply not enough. People don’t have faith in the system of police discipline. After all, this behavior has been going on for a long time and doesn’t seem to be changing.
If the RBPF wants the wide-spread support of the public they have to change their approach. Many are now calling for an independent body to investigate complaints against the police and for the resulting action to be made public.
It’s hard for me to fully endorse the police when they are slapping children, raping women in their custody, taking bribes, beating witnesses, selling guns, stealing cars, committing armed robbery etc etc.
We always hear about “The Few Bad Apples”, but could it be more than a few? After all like I was told by a police friend, Police Officers are drawn from society. And we all know our society has some major issues right now.
In your opinion what does The Royal Bahamas Police Force have to do to gain the trust of the wider Bahamian Public?
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