EARLIER this year, we wrote in this column with concern about a police shooting.
In July, members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force opened fire on a man and killed him. Then they told no one about it. It took three days for authorities to confirm that a police-involved killing took place – prompting Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin to declare the delay “totally unacceptable” and “very concerning”.
Police Commissioner Paul Rolle apologised at the time for a miscommunication.
Today, we report in more timely fashion on another police shooting.
This time we are told that police officers were told about a group assembled at Second Street. Assistant Commissioner Solomon Cash says there were four men there who had a gun. Three ran. One, police tell us, produced a weapon. Officers fired at him and killed him.
ACP Cash said he wasn’t certain whether police wore their body cams. That is crucial information that should be revealed in short order – and should not require a long delay to confirm.
After all, if officers now have body cams and are not wearing them, then what did we buy them for?
ACP Cash could also not answer whether there was a dashcam on the police car. Again, this is not information that should take long to check.
ACP Cash could not even tell reporters how many officers were involved in the incident.
Everything about this incident may have been conducted by the book, but clarity in such incidents is crucial.
Officers have taken the life of a civilian. They may absolutely have been justified in doing so. No one doubts the danger that officers face on the streets, and the split second decisions that have to be made to ensure they go home at night.
But in such cases, police should be as forthcoming as possible, giving every piece of information they can to avoid even the appearance of any doubt.
It is early in this investigation – and some of those details are doubtless still being checked. That said, confirmation of whether there were police cameras recording the incident should be available very quickly. Let it be made clear to all what happened in this shooting – and let that be the pattern going forward.
In today’s Front Porch column, our columnist salutes their choice as Person of the Year – Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis.
To that, we would add in this column a salute of our own.
In this most difficult of all years, we would not name just one person – but rather every single member of Bahamian society who kept things going.
We salute the doctors, the nurses, the janitors, the hospital staff.
We salute the gas station attendants, the supermarket shelf stackers, the bag packers, the checkout assistants.
We salute the security guards now finding themselves with an extra task of checking people’s temperatures and distributing sanitisers at shop entrances.
We salute the fast food workers, the delivery staff.
We especially salute those who in their own time helped to pack boxes of food to take to those who needed them most.
When The Bahamas called, these people answered, and we thank each and every one.