Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Fred Mitchell said yesterday that the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) needs more tools for helping to maintain order in crowds, as opposed to just batons and guns.
His comments came after videos purportedly depicting police beating a group of young men with batons at the New Year’s Day Junkanoo Parade made the rounds on social media.
“There is not anything in between lethal force and your bare hands to deal with crowd control,” Mitchell said at a press conference at PLP headquarters.
“So, the fact that the first recourse for the police has to be the use of batons is an issue. And then the next level of force is the use of weapons.
“They have nothing in between, [like] pepper spray or any of those non-lethal things to deal with disorder.
“So, that seems to be something, structurally, that has to be addressed by the police force because, as I said, the only alternatives they have is to say, ‘Stop. Don’t do that.’
“And the next level is a gun or a baton, and there should be something in between that.”
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.
PLP Leader Philip Brave Davis said yesterday that he is concerned over the number of complaints of police brutality in recent years.
“I was pleased this morning to see that police have indicated that they are going to investigate these matters,” Davis said.
“Police brutality, police killings, have always been a concern of the Progressive Liberal Party, and that concern has been heightened over the last year and a half because of the number of complaints we’ve been having in relation to police brutality and police killings.”
He added, “And so with all these issues impacting the police force, the persons who are supposed to be protecting our citizens, it is alarming to be having these issues.”
Acting Deputy Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle has said that anyone who feels abused by police should file a complaint, which will be investigated.