Regional officers wrap up post-Dorian assistance

The Royal Bahamas Police Force on Grand Bahama suffered significant asset losses due to Hurricane Dorian and its officers are among those left homeless in its aftermath, leaving a need for assistance that was provided by officers engaged with CARICOM’s Regional Security System (RSS).

A team of 16 officers from Dominica, Barbados, St. Vincent and Grenada traveled to Grand Bahama six weeks ago assisting local officers in operations including mobile and foot patrols, security at the Freeport Harbour and the Samaritan’s Purse field hospital and road checks.

A team of officers from Dominica, St. Kitts, St. Lucia and Antigua also traveled to Abaco following the passage of Dorian.

The teams left the islands on Saturday.

Inspector John Charles, the highest ranking officer of the Grand Bahama contingent in an interview with Perspective, said of the policing experience on the island that, “everybody understands the need for the police in times like this, so we had no real challenges or difficulties in dealing with the people because most of them appreciated us and understood our reason for being here.

“The cooperation of the Bahamian people was good given their circumstances, because after a disaster there can be desperation but they understood our mission.”

Charles was part of the region’s contingent to Haiti following its devastating 2010 earthquake and to Grenada in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

The Regional Security System (RSS) was created out of a need for a collective response to security threats which were impacting on the stability of the region in the late 70s and 80s, according to the organization’s website.

It was established via a treaty signed at St. George’s, Grenada, in March 1996 between Barbados and members of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

The Bahamas is a party to CARICOM’s Treaty on Security Assistance Among CARICOM Member States that lays out a security assistance mechanism which provides for the mobilization, coordination and deployment of resources to respond to threats of serious crimes, man-made or natural disasters and national and regional crisis.

Through this mechanism, security is provided by officers of police and defense forces in CARICOM countries.

The Bahamas provided security assistance to Dominica back in 2017 when that island nation was hit by Hurricane Maria, which is said to have been the country’s worst natural disaster in its recorded history.

Charles said though there is still much to be done, his country has progressed significantly since the passage of the deadly storm.

“When we were hit by Maria the Bahamian soldiers were there too,” he referenced. “It is rather unfortunate that we had to come here under this circumstance and we wish and we hope that this does not have to happen in the future.

“We just pray to God that in the future we are not hit and everything will be okay.”

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