NATIONAL Security Minister Wayne Munroe. (File photo)
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
AS debate continues on the use of non-lethal weapons on the police force, National Security Minister Wayne Munroe suggested yesterday such tools may not be effective in violent or hostile crime situations.
Mr Munroe made the comments to reporters when asked if he planned to lobby for non-lethal weapons to be used by officers.
The issue was placed into the spotlight last week after police killed Leading Seaman Rodney Adderley. The Royal Bahamas Police Force said Adderley, who was unarmed, charged at an officer and tried to disarm him before he was fatally shot.
Yesterday the minister said the decision on the matter does not lie with him, but rather Police Commissioner Paul Rolle.
“That’s not a matter for the Minister of National Security,” Mr Munroe said. “That’s a matter for the Commissioner of Police. If he requests non-lethal, then in the context of his overall budget, it would be advanced and that will be for them making an assessment of the value of it, the likely use of it for the public to be very clear.”
Mr Munroe said while there is no doubt such weapons are valuable, Bahamians can also not expect officers to use non-lethal tools when dealing with suspects in hostile situations.
He also pointed to the country’s latest shooting incidents as an example.
He said: “(Tuesday) night was an example. You have young men driving around in these cars with guns and the public cannot expect the police in the evening faced with that spectacle to come out with a non-lethal. So, non-lethals are valuable, but I came to learn when the subject was broached that we have many many officers who were injured for want of a non-lethal in actual and physical circumstances.
“So, like I said, everything is a matter of priority. If we have unlimited money, we can get the police every single thing they wish. While we don’t have unlimited resources, it will be a matter of prioritisation and every agency in the Ministry of National Security has to present a list and it has to be prioritised so that when resources become limited, you direct them to what you see to be the areas of greatest priority.”
Deputy Commissioner of Police Clayton Fernander recently said he would welcome the acquisition of non-lethal weapons for the Royal Bahamas Police Force and added the matter was on the table and up for discussion.
“I welcome that, but it is still on the table for discussion. We will see how quickly we can bring that up based on what is going on out there now and the concerns from members of the public,” he said at a press conference on Monday.
In 2020, Commissioner Rolle told police, customs and immigration officers that firearms and lethal force should be used as a last resort and “only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public cooperation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.”
He also revealed the RBPF was exploring less lethal weapon options like tasers and body wrap technologies to reduce incidents of fatal encounters between police and suspects.