Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson yesterday blamed parents of abusive police officers for their actions.
The commissioner, who held a press conference to release the 2019 crime statistics, was asked about recent allegations of police brutality during the New Year’s Day Junkanoo Parade.
Ferguson said he was “glad” that he was asked the question, noting that “now is the time for me to really say what I want to say with respect to that”.
He noted that since his appointment, he has recruited some 200 plus officers in the force.
“During the process of recruitment…members of the police investigation team to employ officers went to every single location where we had an applicant who wanted to come on this force,” he said.
“We asked questions of mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, cousins, neighbors and persons in the community. And we asked, ‘Is this person fit?’
“‘Very nice person. You couldn’t find a better person than this individual.’
“So, we took your word and we hired people.
“Your sons. Your daughters. Your brothers. Your family members. And we hired them because they are Bahamians and rightfully we thought that all Bahamians would be able to behave themselves. All, not just police officers.”
He continued, “The bible tells parents train up a child in the way you should go.
“…By the time you reach the police force, you ain’t no child.
“When you reach the police force, you’re accountable.
“And so what do you expect to get?
“You only going to get what you give us. But a lot of the time, people believe the police force is responsible for bringing up your children. That’s not the job of the police force. We will train you how to maintain law and order. How to behave yourself in carrying out your duties. But training of the child, the mind of the child, that is the responsibility of the parents.
“I often ask the question when children are born, you see mothers and fathers have this little baby holding up, ‘Toonka, toonka, toonka. Mommy’s little baby.’
“So what happens to little ‘Toonka toonka’ when they reach adulthood? These are serious questions that parents have got to answer. Why it can’t be big ‘Toonka toonka’?
“We have to show love to these children.”
According to statistics provided by Ferguson, there was a 38 percent decrease in the number of complaints made against officers in 2019 compared to 2018.
Last week, several videos purportedly depicting police officers beating a group of young men at the New Year’s Junkanoo Parade were widely shared on social media, raising questions about whether officers used unnecessary force in dealing with them.
Ferguson said that complaints have been filed against the police officers, and said they are being investigated.
Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said that law enforcement officers acting outside their authority will not be tolerated.
Last year, two women on Exuma accused a police officer of punching them repeatedly during an early morning traffic stop.
Ferguson said yesterday that allegations of police brutality are “always a concern for members of the police force because we are working hand-in-hand with the public”.
“We continue to talk to our officers,” he said.
“We continue to do training in respect to how to behave and all those things.”