Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday called an audit into the reserves branch of the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) “troubling”, noting that he does not agree with parts of the report.
The audit revealed that the program was not operating in an “optimal manner”.
Among other things the report noted that there were no proper systems in place to accurately account for the strength of the branch.
Speaking to reporters in the foyer of the House of Assembly, Davis, who admitted that he hasn’t completed his review of the report, said, “I don’t know whether I share all the views of the findings.
“What we do know is that it appears that management and leadership for reservists has been the challenge…
“There is sort of a broad side on the reservists that I don’t know whether it is fair in the sense that there’s a suggestion that reservists were really cheating the public purse.
“That is something that is troubling to me and once I would have completed my review of the report, I may have a more substantive statement to make on that regard.”
He continued, “The one thing that has come out of the report that has some merit is the fact that it appeared the reservist regime seems to have become the dumping ground for retired police officers, which speaks to perhaps another challenge that we are not addressing and that is how police officers are organizing themselves personally, taking into account when they would be retired and what life would be after retirement.
“And so those are some of the things that we need to be addressing and looking into.”
Of the 1,255 reserves identified in the audit, approximately 786 or 61.2 percent were active and 487 or 38.8 percent were inactive and had not reported to duty in over a year.
The report noted that some reserve officers had never reported for duty since being enlisted.
“There was a lack of proper procedures to properly account for all reserves; lack of clearly defined duties and responsibilities for each rank; the lack of a proper monitoring system to inform human resources activities; and the methods used to collect data by the police force had all contributed to missed opportunities to assess this sector of the force,” the report read.
Additionally, the report revealed a practice of retired officers enlisting into the program and retaining or being promoted to higher ranks without justification or standardization.
Asked about suggestions that the reserve was being operated in a way for political gain, Davis said, “I don’t know whether that is a true characterization of the system.
“You must always recall that if we go over the last 20 to 30 years, the FNM has been more in control than the PLP. Now, I don’t like getting in this blame game and I keep telling them the time for blame-storming has to come to an end. We need to be brainstorming to address the challenges that have been systemic over the years and let’s look forward to how we can improve what there is.”
Davis insisted that with the regime being around since 1965, its “challenges have just been allowed to brew, practices and protocols were allowed to just evolve and it was more what I call an organizational condonation of what has been going on as opposed to any political condonation in my view”.
He also vehemently denied that the Christie administration ever played politics with the police force.
“We were not playing politics with the police force,” Davis said.
“I think the evidence speaks to that.
“If politics is being played, it’s being played right now because of the way they are treating police officers, how they are decimating the police force without any sort of rhyme or reason and we deny it vehemently and again we have to stop the blame game. Look at what the issues are and fix it, and let’s go forward.”