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‘Trust Us To Play Fair On Complaints’

Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson. Photo: Terrel W Carey/Tribune Staff

Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson. Photo: Terrel W Carey/Tribune Staff

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

AS he urged those aggrieved by officers to make their complaints known with the Complaints and Corruptions Unit, Royal Bahamas Police Force Commissioner Anthony Ferguson said the process must be fair on all sides.

The Police Act mandates that complaints against officers be addressed within six months, yet some have been waiting more than a year for police to address their complaints and have yet to get an update.

In one recent case, two people were told time had run out for their matter to be addressed, even though they made timely complaints. 

Despite the concerns, Commissioner Ferguson admitted yesterday that people may get weary with the process, but he was confident police will investigate all matters properly.

“If you are aggrieved by any action taken by police, you would report the matter to the police complaints unit, who I have every confidence in, will investigate the matter and where there is action to be taken action will be taken,” the police chief said yesterday in response to a question about grievances against the police.

“I think sometime people are a little weary that the outcome of the action is not the way they would like it, but we have to understand the Royal Bahamas Police Force is no different from any other society.

“There has to be due process.”

He continued: “You have to be fair to people who complaints are made (against) and the law is quite clear and the procedures are quite clear on investigations of complaints.

“The question I will ask is wouldn’t you want someone to be fair with you if somebody is accusing you of something? I am sure the answer would be yes and so we’ll continue to be fair to all persons who make reports and all persons who the reports are made against.”

Police have in recent months come under fire for alleged abuses against people in their custody.

Last month The Tribune exclusively reported that the RBPF was being sued for allegedly torturing three people in a bid to secure confessions from them.

Two men and a woman in Eleuthera, who were questioned at the Governor’s Harbour Police Station in January 2018, say they were bound, beaten and fish-bagged before being released without charge. One claimed police poured hot sauce into his eyes.

The trio made formal complaints at the Complaints and Corruption Unit but, after hearing nothing for more than a year, they pursued their case in court.

However, days after the story went public, they were told the time had expired for their matter to be addressed by the force, despite the timely complaints they had made.

Before this, the father of Shavar Bain Jr, the toddler who was abducted in mid-February and later left outside a washhouse in Fox Hill, alleged police beat him to force a confession that he was involved in the kidnapping of his own child.

The child’s mother, Dwaynira Thurston also said her human rights were violated when police came to arrest her but refused to give her the privacy of getting dressed.

Mr Bain went on to file a report with the Complaints and Corruptions Unit.

It is unclear if there has been movement in the investigation.

Recent reports also indicate the Police Complaints Inspectorate, which oversees the RBPF’s investigations into complaints to ensure they are impartial, has been non-functional. It is not clear whether National Security Minister Marvin Dames has appointed anyone to the inspectorate as the law mandates. According to the most recent US human rights report, the inspectorate has not met since September 2017.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 2 months, 1 week ago

Ferguson should be our Prison Warden and not our Police Commissioner.

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John 2 months, 1 week ago

Can you name one police officer that has been severely disciplined or dismissed from the force (not including those from the Reckley matter and the scapegoats that were also discharged. But very few people trust the police today and They trust Meltdown Marvin Dames and Anthony Ferguson even less. Yes the Bahamian public want to see a solution to the overbearing crime that got too out of control under the last (PLP) administration. And the FNM's promise of a solution to crime. especially murder, was what helped them get elected, probably more than any of any of the other planks in the FNM's campaign. But rather launching an assault on crime and criminals, it appeared that Dames, Ferguson and the police force launched an all out attack on the Bahamian public. The shooting of an innocent young man 18 times, the raid on sleeping Bahamian communities during the sleeping hours, apparently in search of drugs, where the police claimed many criminals or wanted persons were arrested, but few were put before the courts and charged with offenses worthy of disturbing entire communities in the dead of night. And repeating this offensive behavior a number of times. And the constant reports of beating and torturing suspects, many who turn out to be innocent, and the locking up of young men, 3 and 4 days, some minors and not allowing them to contact their families. And since his infamous statement that Bahamians should expect casualties during the war on crime, little has been forthcoming from this commissioner. So what has caused him to find a voice now. Is it the state's department report on his complaints unit? Or is it a genuine effort to men the severely broken relationship between the police and the community? Many do not trust the police. They fear victimization if they do come forward with their complaints. Others feel that nothing will be done in any event so why waste the time and the effort to make a complaint. Then there are those upright, loyal and dedicated police officers. Probably 80-90 percent of the officers on the force. Is it fair to them to be painted by a tainted brush because of the failure of the brass to discipline rogue officers? And yes crime is trending down, very much so. BUT the general public is now more fearful of some police officers that they are of gangs and criminals... And that should not be! It is the commissioner's time to now make peace between the community and the police force and allow them to enjoy their freedom in a reduced crime environment.

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tell_it_like_it_is 2 months, 1 week ago

Trust the police to do the right thing? You must be kidding! There are probably a hand full of officers who are truly honorable.
But we are seeing all too often that many of them have no respect for members of the public. In their eyes...many people are guilty before facing the judge. (I guess that's how they justify the beatings). SMH

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bogart 2 months, 1 week ago

DA POLICE REAL REAL BE NEEDING ONE GOOD PUBLIC RELATIONS DEPARTMENT........Dey may be experts at bringing down da crime statistics...Police strategies...whatnots......AND DA SAYINGS....erryone done know da pore people vocabulary....tells us anyting...an say words 1..."Trust us"...2 "Play Fair".... Some common words...sayings we da pore d grade catch one different meaning......like.....'you see what I saying'....'I hears yer, loud an clear'.....'truth I saying'.....'lemmie a slow five' ....'tings gan get better'....'see baby gats yer nose an eyes'......etcetc.....

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ThisIsOurs 2 months, 1 week ago

No disrespect but no. Trust is broken and it's probably a small percentage of the force that caused it, but no one stopped them. Just last week social media had a video of an officer slapping someone he was arresting(?) Why did he think that was ok to do in front of a bunch of people? What would he do when no one was around?

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