A new police commissioner takes charge

We congratulate Paul Rolle on his appointment as commissioner of police.

Rolle, a career policeman, has spent some 37 years moving up the ranks of the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF).

He is well trained and widely experienced in all areas of law enforcement.

He comes to the post just three years shy of his 40-year limit of service on the force.

Like his immediate predecessor, the new commissioner will be required to discharge his duty without the benefit and support of a substantive deputy commissioner, a constitutionally established position, which has been given specific legislative authority and responsibilities under the Police Act and which has been vacant since the summarily forced leave of the holder of the post, Emerick Seymour, one year ago.

His will be the task to right-size what has become a top-heavy force high command, the result of considerable political interference and influence over promotion exercises in the RBPF, particularly during the last administration.

Fortunately, he will have the benefit of a number of studies undertaken over the last decade on an appropriate structure and size of the RBPF.

Such studies can usefully inform his policy and management strategies.

Critically important to his success will be his ability to attract increased numbers of high-quality recruits onto the force.

We have, previously, commented in this space on the good result the RBPF has had over the years with Family Island recruits; seven of eight commissioners of police since independence have all come from Family Islands: Eleuthera, Grand Bahama, Cat Island, Long Island, Acklins, Exuma and now, Andros.

We encourage the commissioner to cast his recruiting net widely.

In this vein, we also encourage the new commissioner to break with past practice, which slowed both the recruitment of, and later the advancement in, the force hierarchy of quality female officers based largely, if not solely, on gender.

And, we recommend to him the restoration and/or expansion of the Police Cadet Programme, which served in the past to introduce enthusiastic young high school students to the police service as an attractive career path.

Rolle inherits a force that experienced measurable success under the leadership of his predecessor, retired Commissioner Anthony Ferguson, in curbing a runaway serious crime problem in the country.

He must now build on that legacy.

Among his tasks will be the timely investigation of a growing number of police shootings and of allegations of abuse of power by some members of the force.

And, as a former head of the Police Corruption Investigations Unit, Rolle is well placed to effect a speedy examination and determination of allegations of corruption in the RBPF and elsewhere in our country.

The new commissioner assumes office at a particularly challenging time, as The Bahamas continues to recover and reconstruct following the devastating blow from Hurricane Dorian to our northern islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama seven months ago.

Additionally, he is immediately confronted by a still more serious threat to our country stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, which jeopardizes the health of our population and its economic stability.

Certainly, the continued enforcement of COVID-19-related Emergency Powers Orders, including a 24-hour curfew meant to keep all but essential services closed around the country, will be an early test.

Rolle is the beneficiary of formal training both locally at the Police College and the College of The Bahamas (now University of The Bahamas) and abroad in the United Kingdom, Jamaica and Canada.

He also participated in specialist training programs in Brazil and El Salvador.

Aware of the benefits of international exposure, we hope and expect that he will bring back regular overseas training for eligible, suitable police officers.

Commissioner Rolle is well respected in law enforcement circles in the country and abroad.

Much is expected from him.

We extend very best wishes to the new commissioner, even as we express our thanks and appreciation to Ferguson for long, faithful and exemplary service to our country. 

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