Minister of National Security Marvin Dames. Photo: Terrel W. Carey Sr/Tribune Staff
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
NATIONAL Security Minister Marvin Dames stopped short yesterday of saying the government will cease letting officers investigate police-involved killings, but he said officials are “looking at the process”.
Critics highlight the conflict of how police-involved killings are investigated –– officers secure scenes, interview witnesses and compile evidence for Coroner’s Court inquests.
Mr Dames said: “We’re continuing to look at the process and see how we can improve upon it. That is something we’re doing with respect to investigation of matters but it happens in other jurisdictions as well.”
Some believe a solution is to give the coroner her own investigative team. Asked if an independent investigative body could be formed, Mr Dames spoke generally about his administration’s efforts to enhance transparency in how law enforcement functions.
“We’re looking at every means and ways to bring about greater level of transparency in everything we do,” he said. “You know what we did in terms of the body cams. We’re about to go to Cabinet any day now with the victorious bidder. That’s all in an effort to bring greater transparency to the way we do things. It’s coming and we’re going to come as well with dash cams. We’re taking any number of measures when you talk about greater transparency and the way our law enforcement agencies conduct their business. It’s a process, not something that can happen overnight.
“But it is our goal to ensure that transparency is the order of the day for all of our law enforcement agencies and that’s the reason why we have laws in place that when people do commit offences be they police officers, customs officers, defence force officers, there are consequences. We’re always looking at ways to improve our delivery of service to the public and that’s what we will continue to do. There are areas where we have to improve upon and sometimes it takes a matter or incident for us to look internally to see how we can respond to it.”
Last week a jury found that an officer unlawfully killed Osworth Rolle in November 2016. Attorney General Carl Bethel said he is awaiting the coroner’s file on the matter to decide what comes next. The law grants him the power to send the matter back to the Coroner’s Court for a fresh inquest or to the director of public prosecutions who can decide whether to pursue criminal charges against the officer responsible.
The officer that killed Rolle remains on active duty. Unlike in some jurisdictions, officers responsible for killings in the Bahamas are not placed on desk duty pending the outcome of an investigation.