Commissioner Defends Police Shootings In Crime Battle: In Any War There Are Casualties

Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson at Tuesday's press conference. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune staff

Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson at Tuesday's press conference. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune staff


Tribune Staff Reporter


POLICE Commissioner Anthony Ferguson said yesterday police are at “war” with criminals, adding there will likely be “casualties” when people confront law enforcement officers. 

When asked about police involved shootings last year, Commissioner Ferguson said: “In any war there are casualties.” 

In 2018, there were 11 fatal and nine non-fatal police involved shootings, Royal Bahamas Police Force press liaison officer, Superintendent Shanta Knowles confirmed yesterday.

During a press conference where he detailed last year’s crime statistics, Commissioner Ferguson addressed this matter as well as police initiatives such as body cams and the MARCO Alert system.

“In any war there are casualties,” he said. “There are casualties. And so if you are confronting the police, more than likely there will be casualties. And there is a judicial part of the system that will adjudicate over that.

“(These) are actions between the police and persons who…confront the police. And police take the necessary action,” the commissioner continued. “Those matters are adjudicated at another level. You have the numbers, we have the numbers. We’re not afraid to tell you how many persons are fatally shot by police. We report them in the press as they happen.”

Despite murders being down in 2018 by 25 percent, he also noted that incidents of non-fatal “criminal shootings” occurred.

“Bahamians need to know that we have Bahamians out there who are evil and who are shooting citizens, shooting their brothers and citizens,” he said.

Commissioner Ferguson also addressed the implementation of body cams for police officers, a programme expected to come on stream this year. 

“We believe in (transparency),” he said. “And so very, very soon you will see body cams being worn. We are very, very close to acquiring that…I can tell you that it’s much closer today than it has been.

“And so you will find that the Ministry of National Security will be making a statement on who should...be awarded the contract to provide body cams to the (RBPF).”

He also discussed the expansion of the country’s CCTV programme, saying it is “well on its way”. However, the police chief declined to state how many cameras are in operation and where they are located, for crime fighting reasons”.

Regarding the MARCO Alert system, Commissioner Ferguson said it still needs some “minor adjustments”. The system, an alert for missing children, was launched under the Christie administration, then retooled and relaunched under the Minnis administration, however, it does not appear to have been utilised frequently, if at all, by police. 

“It’s in use, it’s still being tweaked,” he said. “It’s completed. We launched it already and so pretty soon you’ll be a part of it.”

The police chief also said in 2019, the RBPF plans to “be more productive and more aggressive in the carriage of our policing mandate.”

“With the recent new addition of officers and the deployment of new vehicles, you can expect to see a higher number of officers moving about on the streets to promote a level of security and to send clear messages to criminal elements that no longer will they be allowed to disrupt our communities and there will be no hiding place for them. In other words, they will feel the presence of the Police and we will keep them running.

“We will focus on crime hotspots and problematic night spots and aggressive enforcement of the traffic laws. We will be strong on the streets to prevent the movement of criminals from one division to another. We will also continue working with our colleagues in the overall protection of our borders.

“We will continue to build on effective management strategies, professionalising the service, optimising the use of technology, interacting with at risk youth, improving road safety and the continued prevention and reduction of crime.

“While we welcome the reductions in crime, we are not satisfied with the current level of crime in our country. We will not be complacent, however, but will strive to further reduce the level and fear of crime in the Bahamas.

“We look forward to 2019 with great anticipation as we endeavour to execute our mandate with courage, integrity and loyalty. So I invite you to partner with us as we create safer communities throughout the length and breadth of the Bahamas.”


Godson 6 days, 19 hours ago

I resent wholeheartedly the notion and expression that The Royal Bahamas Police Force is in a state of "war" with the citizenry who are disenfranchised due to no fault of their own. The people, and by extension, its military forces ought to be at "war' with a common enemy. The citizenry, irrespective of their waywardness, is not the enemy. THE POLICE FORCE WAS ESTABLISH TO 'POLICE' AND 'ENFORCE' THE LAWS AMONG THE CIVILIAN POPULATION - The fact of the matter is that those elected, and otherwise in office of authority, have opted and have taken on the task of governance which happens to far beyond their call, comprehension or capabilities. The people are merely mimicking their leaders as to what they witness or perceive is the essence of life. What our leaders place their emphasis on is exactly what the youths are bound to pursue as important (money, pleasure and material gains). THIS IS NOT A JUSTIFIED REASON TO KILL THEM. You restrain, educate and discipline the unruly citizens - THEY SHOULD NOT BE SLAUGHTERED AS THE ENEMY AND THEN TERMED "THE CASUALTY OF WAR".


John 6 days, 19 hours ago

Guess the commissioner telling Bahamians to expect some of their innocent sons to die (without compensation) while the police do battle with crime. So it’s ok for police to pump 18 rounds of lead into an innocent, unarmed citizen, mostly in his back? Or shoot a blind man and claim he pointed a gun at officers?


Godson 6 days, 19 hours ago

Whether "our sons" are guilty or not, nor whether there is potential for compensation for wrongful death, this should not be the expectation among the Bahamian populace, even as it pertains to those who are wayward. How can our youths dream and aspire to be productive citizens if this happens to be a factor in our social equation. This whole idea of declaring "war" on your disenfranchised citizenry reeks of despair and hopelessness on a national scale.


John 6 days, 12 hours ago

Racial profiling in a majority Black Country


Well_mudda_take_sic 6 days, 19 hours ago

Ferguson readily admits Minnis, Dames and D'Aguilar have it all wrong. We are indeed in a state of war with vast numbers of criminal elements within our own country. The cruise ship captain who told his passengers to stay away from 'hot' areas like the Fish Fry at Arawak Key obviously knew what he was talking about. LMAO


sheeprunner12 6 days, 18 hours ago

Which "war" are we in???????? ............. Dames' War?????????

The COP is which general??????? ............. Sherman, Lee, or Grant????????? ......... SMH


Well_mudda_take_sic 6 days, 18 hours ago

The war on crime. And the only thing Minnis is qualified for in this war is cleaning out the latrine for re-use by the troops. LMAO


tell_it_like_it_is 6 days, 18 hours ago

If the police only shoot individuals who are threatening them with bodily harm, I have no problems with that actually.
I do think the body cams are needed to make sure that is ALL that is happening and no other unethical practice.


TalRussell 6 days, 18 hours ago

Yes, or no - is the reporting what is an alarming escalation numbers policeman's involved shootings comrade citizens - mostly occurring just in and about colony islands capital town of Nassau - really being openly offered voluntarily unafraid before the PeoplePublic - or does the policeman's reporting only begins kicks in once the media starts asking questions - why so frequently are there shootings of we comrade citizens by policeman's - where the majority shootings comrade citizens - meets with trial and conviction with almost certain death sentence being pronounced and carried out on spot. Yes, no - certainly not kinds welcoming statistics for authorities be bragging about playing role in brungin' about... Yes, no - shouldn't all citizens' right to breathing, not be equally valued?


bogart 6 days, 17 hours ago

TOO TOO MELODRAMATIC...."WAR" ."Casualties"?.....Fully understand his officers need to protect their lives against the many...many examples of new type of...wutless criminals just plain shooting victims in the head...or simply innocent victims...leaving noone alive....common sense any criminal with a gun jus aint lookin to ....wave it about...an frighten or scare da bejesus outta police with it..!!!!!!...police have to defend themdelves..!!!.....I Police existing measures are working quite well crime has reduced......perhaps he needs to use decaffinated...???....certainly would appreciate more of his crime reducing strategy...


hrysippus 6 days, 16 hours ago

So one of the best informed highest state employed workers has admitted that we are living in a war zone where police officers regularly are called upon to kill Bahamians. This is not good news for country that is hugely dependant on tourism. Prepare an exit strategy those who are able.


DDK 6 days, 14 hours ago

Think he forgot the world wide web?


Well_mudda_take_sic 6 days, 15 hours ago

Surely the cruise ships and airlines must bear some responsibility for the potential harm they expose their passengers to in transporting them to an officially acknowledged (self-declared) war zone like New Providence Island. The same liability risk presumably applies to the New Providence hotels that advertise for their foreign guests to visit and stay for a while anywhere within the island wide war zone. And what about our government (ministry of tourism) promoting the island wide war zone to foreign visitors? None of these enterprises forthrightly caution their tourist customers about the potential hazards of visiting a war zone like New Providence Island. There are no large signs bearing highly visible bold print, no official web site postings, and no information (not even fine print) in travel ticket/reservation material to caution these people that they are taking their lives in their own hands by visiting the New Providence wide war zone. Something needs to be done about this pronto!


DEDDIE 6 days, 14 hours ago

Murders has gone down but murders by police have gone up.


John 6 days, 12 hours ago

Has there ever been a murder in recent times where the criminals pumped 18 bullets into the victim? This man ain’t serious.


John 5 days, 21 hours ago

So did anyone ask the commissioner how many officers have been dismissed from the force since he became commissioner and how many of the police involved shootings that resulted in death are under active investigation?


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