Commissioner of Police (COP) Anthony Ferguson said yesterday the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) will be left in “good hands” as a new commissioner takes over amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ferguson, who has been overseeing the enforcement of the prime minister’s 24-hour national curfew, will demit office on Monday.
“It’s the continuance of the operations of the force; you will find that it will be seamless because the incoming commissioner, every single day, was working alongside me. So, there’s nothing that he will miss and that is the way that I do things,” he told The Nassau Guardian during in an interview at police headquarters.
“I want to make sure that we work together as a team. So, I’m excited. I’m excited to leave.”
The requirements for retirement in the force are when officers reach age 60 or have 40 years of service.
He has been on the force for 39 years and four months.
Ferguson was appointed commissioner on October 30, 2017, succeeding Ellison Greenslade, who now serves as Bahamas high commissioner to the United Kingdom.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle is expected to succeed Ferguson as commissioner.
Under Ferguson’s leadership, there was a marked decrease in murders.
Following years of record murder rates, the murder count in 2018 and 2019 fell below 100, a first in nearly a decade.
Ferguson said this reduction is one of his proudest accomplishments as commissioner.
Asked about his most challenging moment on the force, he replied, “There have been challenges but nothing that overwhelmed me. Let’s take for example Hurricane Dorian. I think that was something that in recent years we have not seen.”
He added, “I think we were well focused and we didn’t run around like we didn’t know what to do. There are things that we train to do and we followed the training, the experience that we gathered over the years, and so it allowed us to function.
“That was only a couple months ago and then here we are with this virus that has taken the world, not just The Bahamas.
“And then we got a mandate to police a curfew order. The officers are doing it with pride. It’s like, ‘This is what I signed up for.’”
Ferguson said police officers are doing “a very good job” enforcing the curfew “given the circumstances [and] given the culture of our people”.
Asked if there have been any challenges with enforcement, he replied, “No, you see we have put some people before the court where necessary. We have given people advice.”
When pressed on the recent revelation that some of those individuals were homeless, Ferguson said, “There is always a challenge when it comes to homeless people who roam the streets, always challenges.
“So if it’s a challenge for law enforcement then obviously it’s a challenge for families of those persons. And so, there are things that we will have to continue to work out.”
Last week, members of Eyewitness News were prevented by police — reportedly on the orders of Ferguson — from reporting on the second night of national curfew.
The following day, the prime minister issued a statement saying media have “free movement” after curfew.
Asked about the matter, Ferguson said, “I don’t involve in controversy. I do my job. I think I do it very well.”
He said a commissioner should not give “preferential treatment” to anyone.
“A leader ought to be fair in the way that he or she does things, so that’s what I seek to do,” Ferguson said.
Time to relax
Ferguson joined the police force in 1980.
He has served in numerous divisions, including the Family Island Division and the Central and Southern divisions on New Providence.
He was head of the Homicide Squad of the Central Detective Unit and commander of the Drug Enforcement Unit.
Asked about his next move, Ferguson said, “I’ll take a break and relax myself. I’ll go to Exuma and drink some coconut water. You know, I love that island so much and believe me, I will go there and lay on the beach.
“I will walk the streets in Exuma that I once walked as a child and mix with my family and friends on the island…and do some things that I really could not get to do having to work every day and every night.”
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, a small handover ceremony is planned, but a more elaborate one is expected after the crisis.
The police ball has also been postponed.