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Our Police Officers & Some of the Real Problems On The Force

Bahamas, recognise this please. Police officers, other uniformed branches and public officers are not supposed to speak out publicly against the government of the day or get involved in public political debates or activities. In fact, the law prohibits them from doing so. So, just because you don’t hear them go to the media and speak doesn’t mean they are not going through certain major challenges – they just are not allowed to say so openly.

A 12-hour shift should not be worked continuously without the number of rotational days off recommended by the medical community and occupational health community for the health and safety of a shift-worker and his/her workplace. Have you ever worked 12-hour shifts for your job? I did for 2 years – it’s no joke.

There is documented scientific evidence of what this type of shift work does to the human body over time, and the more rigorous the work involved, the more of a health hazard it presents on such shifts. Policing, especially street policing, is rigorous and dangerous work. Police officers on 12-hour shifts must be given the appropriate days off for their own safety and the public’s safety. This is not about politics Bahamas, this is about medical and occupational health and safety and pure common sense.

Even before the 12-hour shifts, the police were already dealing with other major challenges due to what the government claims is “a lack of funds”. Take the training of new police officers as one example. When the government came to power, it met approximately 90 recruits already trained under the previous government who were ready to be graduated into the Force. Those officers were inducted. Since then though, the Force has not held a single training squad yet for new recruits. About 4 to 5 training squads usually take place each year, 30 officers per squad, to continually grow the Force.

Then there are our police cars. Scores of police cars are out of commission or in need of various repairs that are sitting at the Police Garage untouched, as the government claims it has no money to repair the vehicles. A simple tire on a police car cannot be immediately fixed – again due to the government’s claim of lack of funds.

Police supplies have been scarce now for many months, right down to uniforms, socks and shoes – all government issued items for officers. Police uniforms and attire are not bought in a regular clothing store, they are manufactured by vendors. The vendors who manufacture our officers’ uniforms have reportedly stopped doing so because the government has not paid them. So, the police supply room has been empty for quite some time.

Police officers have been calling in sick in significant numbers even before the 12-hour shift system was instituted. Police reservists were going months with no pay. The police are not allowed to go public with all of this information and more, but these are just a few of the significant problems facing the Royal Bahamas Police Force at the hands of the government who is telling everyone the Treasury has no money. Our police officers are critical. Crime is critical. This is critical.

The government has borrowed over $1 billion ($1,000,000,000) in a year, yet the country’s key institutions are struggling due to “lack of funds” – this while Ministers are continuing to spend spend spend, travel the world with entourages of friends and cronies and dish out unknown expenditures – refusing to tell the nation where our tax dollars are going.

Bahamas, we cannot go on like this.

Sharon Turner

Posted in Opinions

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