EDITOR, The Tribune.
ON June 6, 2018. I ventured downtown to Bay Street to purchase a wedding anniversary gift for my beloved wife of 41 years.
I suffered a stroke and underwent open heart surgery two years ago and find it trying to walk long distances in the heat of the day. In attempting to do the correct and lawful thing, I got a letter certifying my condition from my physician and took it down to the Road Traffic Department to get a Disabled Driver sticker for my vehicle.
Although the Road Traffic Department generates a huge amount of revenue for the government, or perhaps because of this, the department has long had a reputation for being corrupt and dysfunctional.
True to form, the Department had no Disabled Driver stickers and none expected and so they suggested that I have one made. I spent many years as a sign builder and so I went to my old place of business and had a magnetic sticker made so that I could transfer it to my wife’s vehicle if she was driving me somewhere.
While being driven downtown, we passed a police constable directing traffic. The uniform worn so proudly by the constables of The Royal Bahamas Police Force is closely modelled on the uniform of The Royal Marines. Seeing this uniform and it being the anniversary of D Day, my mind went to my father.
On June 6, 1944, my father was 19 years old serving as a second lieutenant and gunnery officer in The Royal Marines Siege Battalion and stationed on a 150ft gunboat. The gunboat was engaging shore batteries and covering the Allied Landings in Normandy, “D-Day”. When the captain was decapitated by a German fired shell, my father took on command of the vessel. The Royal Marine Museum records that his gunboat was the longest serving gunboat in this invasion, being in continuous action for 22 hours.
The action was curtailed when his gunboat was hit by one of the mines that the Germans were floating down towards the Hospital Ships and larger Naval craft. This explosion sunk the boat and my father ended up floating in the sea from which he was rescued, taken back to England and recovered after several months in hospital. He did not talk much about his war experiences but ever after had a dislike for “Bullies in uniform” as he called the brown-shirted Nazi supporters who had been strutting through most of Continental Europe.
Bay Street parking was filled as usual with taxi drivers sitting in their empty cabs, the two or three disabled parking spots were taken already until I saw the blue hatching denoting a Disabled Parking place on the South side of Bay close to Parliament Street. My friend who was driving my jeep, parked on these lines, and after making sure that the magnetic sticker was attached to the rear of the vehicle we left to transact my business. Returning about 25 minutes later, we were surprised to find that my vehicle was no longer where it had been left. We approached Police Constable Number 3960 who was polite and helpfully informed us that a khaki-wearing inspector had instructed him to have my vehicle towed. This khaki-wearing inspector had then left the scene.
It seems that I was not supposed to park over the hatched blue lines and my disabled magnetic sticker had mysteriously disappeared and apparently the sticker was supposed to be inside the vehicle anyway.
I could wish that someone of the scores of civil servants working at The Road Traffic Department could have told me this. But perhaps they, like me, did not know.
I was told that the only thing I could do was to walk the mile or two down to the Police Road Traffic Division Station in the old Malcom’s Garage building.
It was now around midday and I arrived at the station in considerable physical distress, in the Bahamian vernacular, with a “swinging head”. Woman Police Officer Munroe immediately noticed my distress and guided me to a seat and fetched a cool and most welcome glass of water. The Force needs more officers like Officer Munroe and perhaps less strutting Khaki.
Officer Munroe then was kind enough to arrange for the return of my vehicle after I had paid the usual exorbitant sum to the usual unsmiling tow truck driver. My wife had to leave her place of work to bring the money required.
Over the course of several years, I donated the banners every year requested for the children’s summer camp marching bands held by the police force. While this particular Khaki-clad inspector remains on the muster, The Royal Bahamas Police Force will receive little respect and no further assistance from this citizen.
Although most policeman are upright and honest there are also those who are spiteful and corrupt, bullies in uniform, for this reason I request that you withhold my name.
June 13, 2018.