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Complaints against police rise

Complaints against police officers increased by 24 percent compared to 2017, according to statistics released by Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson, who did not reveal how many officers were discharged in the past year.

There were 245 complaints made by members of the public in 2018, compared to 197 in 2017.

Of those matters last year, police completed investigations into 68, while 177 remain incomplete.

Additionally, 85 matters in 2017 remain incomplete, while 112 were listed as completed.

During his annual press conference at police headquarters on Tuesday, Ferguson was asked to address internal disciplinary matters.

“There [was a] slight rise in reported matters, and a lot of those are being dealt with,” Ferguson said.

“Persons have been fired, yes, persons have been fired. And where the evidence exists, persons who violate disciplinary code, and it falls under the authority of the commissioner and it requires a person to be dismissed, they were dismissed.”

There were 14 complaints of “conduct of a major nature” in 2018, compared to 19 in 2017.

Last year there were 227 complaints of unethical behavior, compared to 173 in 2017.

There were also four complaints of neglect of duty in 2018, compared to five in 2017.

During his address to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group in Geneva, Switzerland, on January 17, 2018, Attorney General Carl Bethel admitted that there were “deficiencies” in the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s complaints and corruption branch due to a lack of independent oversight.

“Mr. President, concerning the reports of excessive use of force by police officers, it should be highlighted that measures were taken to prevent the recurrence of further abuse and this has been addressed through the training of police officers to use reasonable force at all times,” Bethel said.

One day before Bethel made those comments, Deputy Police Commissioner Emrick Seymour said an independent internal review board will be set up to oversee complaints against police.

When asked yesterday whether that board has been established, Seymour said an old board is still in place but the government is in the process of appointing a new one.

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