Problems with the police force structure
A few months ago Minister of National Security Marvin Dames told the country that only a quarter of police vehicles were fully working. Since coming to office the Minnis administration has had to order a new fleet so that officers would be able to do their jobs.
Now we hear more news about the organization’s dysfunction.
The Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) manpower audit revealed that only half the constables needed are present on the force. Constable is the entry rank. These officers do most of the ground work.
Dames tabled the audit in the House of Assembly last month. There were 837 constables compared to the recommended 1,628.
According to the report, only 34 percent of the force worked as uniformed officers on the frontline. It states the number was concerning because uniformed officers represent the first line of defense in crime fighting.
“The agency had a considerable amount of officers working in non-traditional areas which meant their services were not being fully utilized in core policing functions,” notes the audit.
“…Approximately 16 percent of all officers were deployed within the senior ranks which is creating over saturation.”
The audit described the RBPF’s promotion practices as outdated and lacking consistency and standardization.
“There is no underlying principle which governs this process or any reasonable link between job descriptions for each post which should be the benchmark for promotion from one rank to another,” states the audit.
We actually knew the force was top heavy. The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration announced a large promotion exercise just before the election. The purpose of it was winning votes.
It did not succeed as a campaign trick. The PLP suffered its worst election defeat on May 10, 2017. What the promotions did do was harm the force’s structure.
This audit is another reminder of how bad the PLP was. We had five murder records in the 10-year period 2007 to 2017. Yet the PLP had the force without working cars and half the constables needed on the streets.
Dames and new Commissioner Anthony Ferguson have the mighty task of righting the ship. They are having success in reducing the murder problem. That category of crime has been down in the 40-percent range this year. In commemorating the first anniversary of the Free National Movement (FNM) election victory, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said crime reduction was his administration’s biggest achievement to date.
We need leaders in our country who think important organizations such as the force should be run on rational organizational principles. When they are abused by the practices of favouritism, political consideration and nepotism we all suffer.
The PLP today wants you to forget its last term. Audits such as this are analytical reminders of how poorly the party governed. Keep that in mind as you hear PLP criticism. You did the right thing voting them out. You saved your country.