The Bahamas: A Nation in a State of Rot and Moral Decay
The headline in The Guardian of March 11 was not only shameful, but also embarrassing to this nation in general, and to the RBPF in particular, “Greenslade angered by marriage at station.”
I spent 21 of the most glorious years of my life in the service of this nation as a member of the Bahamas Police Force, later known as, and called, the Royal Bahamas Police Force. In the fledgling years of my service, the entity was controlled by British officers and dominated by West Indian sub-officers from countries in the Caribbean. Discipline was harsh and punishment for any mishap or breach of discipline was brutal. Survival in that environment was only for the fittest. The arrival of E.J.H. Colchester Wemyss in 1955, who saw the need for a national police force comprising of a majority of Bahamians, led to a complete Bahamianization of our police force in three decades. The struggle was not easy. It was one of sweat, agony and tears; but the end result was what really mattered. Those in the frontline of fire were: B.J. Nottage, George Knowles, Conrad Knowles, C.C. Knowles, Theophilus Gibson, Albert Miller, Salathiel Thompson, Edney Johnson, Courtney Strachan, Fletcher Johnson, John Crawley, Avery Ferguson, Olander Burrows, Addington Darville and yours truly.
Many of the above mentioned patriots did not live to see a truly Bahamian-oriented police force commanded by Bahamian commissioners come to fruition; but those of us who did were proud observers of the end result of our struggles, sacrifices and disappointments.
This once disciplined and efficient force of loyal and dedicated Bahamian sons and daughters began a downward trend of immoral and disloyal conduct when politicians from both sides of the political divide began interfering in the administration of the force, thus undermining the authority of the force’s administrator. As a result, the morale of the commissioner and his senior ranks has suffered severely. The formation of a staff association, which the members and its leadership firmly believe to be a union and operate it as such, has played havoc in that organization. The head of that body a few months ago treated the commissioner with disdain and contempt in the printed media, along with the minister of national security and the Bahamas government without fear of retribution of any kind.
On Monday, March 10, the island was buzzing with the news that a wedding ceremony was performed in an office in Central Police Station between a man in police custody and his fiance. This was a disgraceful, shameful and outrageous act that brought the organization into disrepute. On reading the ranks of the individuals involved I almost had a stroke when I saw an assistant superintendent listed.
If the force is to regain its reputation then an example must be made of the leader of that shameful and disgusting scenario. The commissioner of police needs to put his foot down and put it hard. There are too many honest, hardworking, loyal and dedicated men and women in the RBPF who will be looked at with a jaundiced eye by members of the public for deeds committed by a few bad apples. To Greenslade I say, deal with that lot now. The integrity and credibility of the RBPF must be protected at all costs.
By: Errington W.I. Watkins