In 1962 a young District Constable was murdered while on patrol in Palmdale. He had encountered a man breaking into a shop there. He was overpowered and stabbed to death.
In 1974 I was present when Detective Inspector Henderson Norville was murdered in Grand Bahama when we were trying to capture a wanted felon. Norville, unarmed was shot dead.
Between 1962 and 2000 there were seventeen other police officers murdered in The Bahamas. They were killed in the execution of duty, protecting us from a complete take over by criminals. It is now a war, with the gun being the weapon of choice by criminals. There are those policemen, who have been lucky enough to escape these deadly attacks from criminals.
Many years ago a criminal, who escaped from the prison drove around with guns and shot through the doors of police stations. He was eventually killed in a gun battle with the police. The average citizen cannot imagine how suddenly a routine traffic stop, arrest on a warrant or an interrogation can turn sour.
We had an officer killed in the area of The Tribune when a patrol car stopped a car for a search. The young terrorists shot at the policemen as they disembarked from the police car. One policeman died at the scene. The other gave chase and shot-one of the bandits. There was an incident at a road block when a man disembarked from the suspect car and shot at the police, he was killed on the scene. Criminals are using high powered weapons of all descriptions and it is their intention, that should they encounter the police in their attacks on innocent civilians to “take them out”. Among the policemen murdered in the past two decades and to whom we are indebted for their courage and devotion to duty.
Constable Franklyn Forbes, Local Constable James Adderley (1962), Beach Warden Phillip Kelly, Detective Constable Jimmy Ambrose, Detective Constable Stephen Butler, Constable Truman Cooper, Constable Raymond Rolle, Constable Sidney Munroe, Constable Raymond Knowles, Constable Aaron Otis Greene, Constable Jeffery Tucker, Chief Inspector William Moss, Constable Terrell Smith, Constable Ramos Williams, Detective Constable Desmond Burrows, Constable Othello Robert Darville. All murdered by criminals in the execution of their duty.
We are dealing with a very violent criminal today, who will not peacefully surrender when armed with gun or other dangerous weapon. Officers whose lives are in danger and the lives of innocent residents are also in danger have been trained to respond. The training necessitates that the officer aim for the centre mass of the body of the armed criminal and fire until the threat is ended. It is not the lives of the critics of police shootings on the line. It is the life of the officer on the line. In those important seconds he is not likely to hesitate. There is no time to shoot the gun out of the criminal’s hand and if the officer shoots to wound it is very likely that the wounded felon could still shoot him.
The question usually asked is: “Do the police shoot to kill?” Before answering the question we must remember, the case of the policewoman visiting her bank. She was in uniform, unarmed and was unaware that the bank was being robbed. The bandits saw here as they exited the bank. She was shot in the head. The answer to the question is: We shoot to live, not to kill.
Paul Thompson Sr
Nassau, The Bahamas