Law enforcement officers acting outside their authority will not be tolerated, said Minister of National Security Marvin Dames yesterday, noting that the government takes claims of police brutality seriously.
“We’re not going to condone any law enforcement officer acting outside of his or her authority,” Dames said to the media after the annual church service of the Royal Bahamas Police Force yesterday.
“There’s no room for that – not in the Royal Bahamas Police Force or in the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, not in any of these agencies. We can’t have that.
“That goes counter to what we’re seeking to achieve. However, we will defend officers who are acting in accordance [with] the law but not those who are acting outside of it and in breach of the law.
“And hence, there is the reason why we now have the group set up to look at — led by Ms. Tanya McCartney — to review complaints against police officers, to ensure that they are being investigated fairly and that people are being heard.”
Recently, several videos purportedly depicting police officers beating a group of young men at the 2020 New Year’s Junkanoo Parade were shared on social media.
The videos have raised questions about whether officers used unnecessary force in dealing with them.
In one of the videos, several uniformed officers are seen next to a group of young men lined off with their hands pressed against a wall.
One officer, who was swinging a long baton, proceeded to hit one of the young men as he allowed him to walk away, without arresting him.
The officer then did the same to another man, who walked away from the scene without being arrested.
In another video, police officers were shown waving batons, which they swung into a crowd that was standing outside Bank of The Bahamas on Shirley Street.
In yet another short recording outside Bank of The Bahamas, a man was writhing on the ground as an officer hit him repeatedly.
Yesterday, Dames said he hadn’t “taken a serious look” at any of the videos.
He noted that officers need to be mindful that “we’re living in an era now where everybody has a cellphone”.
“And every action, there’s a potential of it being recorded,” Dames said.
“And so, this speaks to the whole question of judgment. You know, knowing that and still doing nonsense speaks to a bigger problem. But we’re not going to condone that.
“We’re not going to condone that whatsoever. We’re not going to condone any actions that go against what these officers would’ve taken in oath and sworn.”