By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
FORMER Commissioner of Police Bernard K Bonamy died in the Princess Margaret Hospital yesterday afternoon at the age of 67.
The former police chief was admitted to the hospital around 1pm after having a low pulse. He died a short time later. Sources say he died of kidney failure.
Prime Minister Perry Christie, who extended condolences on behalf of the Government and people of the Bahamas, described Mr Bonamy as a “no-nonsense police chief who insisted on discipline, professionalism, and service with honour at all levels of the Royal Bahamas Police Force.”
He said: “As Commissioner of Police Mr Bonamy made his most important contribution to national development. He ascended to that high office during the extremely difficult years when narcotics trafficking and associated criminality were at their height. However, he brought to the fight against these menaces an uncompromising integrity and incorruptibility which set the standard for law enforcement officers of the time.”
Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, who offered condolences on behalf of himself and his wife Delores, called Mr Bonamy “the man most responsible for the modernisation of the RBPF in the closing years of the last century.”
Bernard Kenneth Bonamy was born on April 1, 1945 in Arthur’s Town, Cat Island, to Reverend and Mrs Bertram Bonamy. He received his basic education while residing in Cat Island. Following his graduation from Arthur’s Town High School, he migrated to New Providence.
There Bonamy sought employment with the Telecommunications Department as a clerk. He remained there for one year until he enlisted into the police force on June 17, 1963.
After graduating from the police college, he was assigned to the Southern Division. In 1972, Mr Bonamy was sent to the Abaco District to deal with a number of pre-independence challenges that had developed in that community. He remained there until 1973.
In 1978, he graduated from the University of the West lndies with a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree. In 1970, as a police sergeant, he attended a three-month Junior Command Course in Cheshire, England, where he graduated number one in his class.
He attended several other training courses, including seminars with the Drug Enforcement Administration in Miami, Florida; the Overseas Command Course in Bramshill, England; and security courses in London and at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Training Academy in Washington. Mr Bonamy rapidly excelled in his chosen career and by 1979 he had entered the Gazetted ranks. In December 1985, he entered the executive level when he was promoted to the rank of Assistant Commissioner.
His career peaked on November 21, 1987 when, after 24 years of service, he was appointed Commissioner at the relatively young age of 42. He was known to be the commissioner who encouraged educational excellence, as scores of police officers received academic qualifications from various institutions during his tenure.
He has received worldwide exposure because of his service in international police organisations, such as the Executive Committee of ICPO Interpol; the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police (ACCP), where he was elected to serve as President for a term; the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP); and the International Drug Law Enforcement Association (IDEC), where he was elected President in 1996.
Mr Bonamy organised the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 1985, during Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s visit.
As a consequence, he was granted the Lieutenant of the Victorian Order (LVO), personally awarded by the Queen on board the Britannia.
In 1999, Mr. Bonamy sought sabbatical leave from the Royal Bahamas Police Force to enter the Eugene Dupuch Law School, where he graduated in October 2001 with a Certificate in Legal Education. Mr Bonamy was subsequently called to The Bahamas Bar.
He was the first Commissioner of Police in the Caribbean Region to accomplish this. Mr. Bonamy retired from the force on November 21, 2001, having completed 39 years of public service, 14 of which were spent as Police Commissioner.
In recognition of his duties he received the Companion of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (CMG) from Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace in July 2002.
Mr Bonamy was married to the former Shirley Hall, and is the father of five sons and two daughters.