Fernander assures publIc: ‘You can trust Police Probe’

Commissioner of Police Clayton Fernander speaks to the press yesterday. Photo: Nikia Charlton

Commissioner of Police Clayton Fernander speaks to the press yesterday. Photo: Nikia Charlton


Tribune Staff Reporter 


POLICE Commissioner Clayton Fernander sought to assure the public that the Royal Bahamas Police Force is worthy of its trust after voice notes purporting to capture conversations about a quid-pro-quo arrangement involving a senior police officer and a prominent gang leader circulated last week, jarring residents.

He said little about the voice notes during a press conference but said investigators would determine the reliability of the recordings and figure out when, where and by whom they were and by whom they were made.

He said the voices will be identified, and investigators will explore “clues in the surrounding sounds”.

He said a team from the security and intelligence branch will lead the investigation, which will be supervised by the “Inspectorate board”, a little known civilian organisation that has repeatedly lacked the staff to function properly and fulfill its legislative mandate.

He said law enforcement teams from the United States and the United Kingdom are willing to help to ensure the independence and impartiality of the investigation. He did not reveal the partners, but The Tribune understands officials have reached out to Scotland Yard.

Describing the matter as “serious”, Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis said on X, the website formerly known as Twitter, that more announcements will come on how international expertise and support will be used in the investigation.

Commissioner Fernander also noted that personnel transfers throughout the police force, including within CID, were underway before the latest controversy and suggested they are timely now.

He reiterated that Chief Superintendent of Police Michael Johnson, the officer in charge of the Central Intelligence Department and the one purportedly featured in at least one of the voice notes, has taken garden leave so the investigation can be conducted without interference.

The five leaked voice notes also purportedly features a well-known lawyer and two recently murdered gang members: Michael Fox, Jr, and Dino Smith.

Police had issued wanted posters for Fox and Smith concerning the theft of $1,475,000 from an unattended security vehicle transporting cash for the Bank of the Bahamas to a private airport on November 2. However, the men were never charged with the incident.

Fox was killed in May, while Smith was murdered on his birthday in January.

Commissioner Fernander’s statement was filled with recognition of the severity of the implications of the voice notes and their impact on the reputation of the police force.

Police have repeatedly blamed the country’s high murder rate on gang violence, and the Davis administration has touted its efforts to strengthen anti-gang legislation. The public has long been weary of the force’s willingness to investigate itself properly, and it is not uncommon for police to not disclose the investigation results of complaints that capture the public’s attention.

Commissioner Fernander said officers will sometimes fall short of the RBPF’s standard of integrity.

“This is painful, especially if found within senior ranks,” he said. “Nobody, and I repeat, nobody is above the law. In this recent past, police officers have been brought before the courts, some on serious charges, and have felt the full force of the law.”

“I will not, I repeat, I will not allow the good work of many outstanding Bahamians in this great institution to be destroyed by the actions of a few. I firmly stand by our motto: Courage, Integrity and Loyalty.”

He said the investigation would be “vigorously pursued” and will not disappear.

The voice notes raised questions about investigations CID has led in recent years. Commissioner Fernander said the integrity of police files currently before courts remains intact.

“No decision is made by one person,” he said. “We have our DPP office, who continue to work hand-in-hand with us. They have sight of all of our serious crime matters that went to court. If the evidence is not there, they will make directive. If it’s there, then we proceed.”

Chief Superintendent Anthon Rahming will assume CSP Johnson’s responsibilities.

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