The service was live streamed on the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s Facebook page.
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
FOLLOWING criticism over a recent police funeral that contravened COVID-19 orders, Police Commissioner Paul Rolle said yesterday the public can be assured that such incidents will not happen again as everyone must abide by the law.
His comments come nearly a week after a police officer’s funeral was held at Woodlawn Gardens, which saw more than 10 people gathered at the site despite the COVID-19 Emergency Power Order stipulations.
The service, which was live streamed on the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s Facebook page, sparked criticism from the public, who accused officers of being hypocritical by enforcing orders that they themselves were not following.
When asked about the issue yesterday, Commissioner Rolle admitted that the event had exceeded the amount limit, insisting that officials will do their best to ensure that it does not happen again.
However, the police chief acknowledged that officers sometimes struggle on how to deal with the funerals with large crowds especially if the service is still ongoing.
“I think the matter as it relates to the funeral at the cemetery was addressed already,” he told reporters yesterday. “I don’t know if there’s much more that I can add to it other than to say it did happen and that’s about as much — I couldn’t say why the persons (were there) but there were three funerals that were going on side by side and, of course, when people see the police, they love the police and they came over.
“And naturally a lot of persons were there and so again, it is what it is and so we just have to make sure that as far as the police part of it that we don’t allow it to happen no more because we do have a few of our police colleagues who have passed and there are funerals.”
He continued: “We keep saying to the families what is permitted and it’s up to persons to abide but when you arrive at the cemetery and you meet a large crowd, I mean it’s, you’re in the ceremony. Do you stop and run the people out? That is the difficulty for us.
“We simply have to ask people to abide and not only in funerals but straight across the board.”
In March, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis issued a number of restrictions on social gatherings, including weddings and funerals in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Under the initial order, only ten members of the immediate family could have attended a funeral service excluding the officiant and mortuary workers. This still applies to New Providence, where services can only be held by the graveside.
However, in certain Family Islands like San Salvador and Rum Cay, funerals can be held in churches or other religious facilities with up to 20 people once in accordance with the Bahamas Christian Council guidelines approved by the Ministry of Health.
Yesterday, the RBPF released a statement urging all concerned religious leaders, morticians and family members to comply with the orders.