Responding to Waterloo’s claims of police harassment

Dear Editor,

The government of The Bahamas has implemented the COVID-19 emergency orders with the intent of protecting lives.

It is the police’s responsibility to enforce those orders.

Some weeks ago, the Royal Bahamas Police Force began receiving complaints from members of the public regarding the conduct of the operators of the Waterloo restaurant. We summoned the operators to police headquarters. A meeting was held with them regarding our concerns.

Assistant Commissioner Craig Stubbs and Acting Assistant Commissioner Kirkwood Andrews met with the operators and shared the police’s concerns. They later accompanied the operators to the site where they conducted an inspection and the operators promised to ensure that the rules would be complied with. ACP Stubbs informed the operator that the police will conduct periodic visits to the establishment.

The following week, we received numerous complaints from members of the public about large gatherings at the establishment accompanied by a video of the operation.

I dispatched Chief Superintendent Walter Evans and Superintendent Chaswell Hanna to the establishment to speak to the proprietor and that was done. The proprietor was warned by Chief Superintendent Evans to kindly ensure that the emergency protocols are followed. He assured the officers that he would.

On Sunday past, the police again received numerous complaints from motorists in the area about large crowds at the establishment.

I personally received reports from members of the public as well.

I instructed Police Control to dispatched officers to investigate.

I also contacted Chief Superintendent Zhivago Dames, the officer in charge of the COVID-19 Command Centre, and instructed him to visit the establishment along with some (COVID-19) ambassadors.

Several patrol units and ambassadors responded to the restaurant situated at East Bay Street where officers reported roughly 300 persons gathered outside and about 250 patrons on the inside. The officers ordered the persons to disperse and issued citations to the operator.

The suggestion that the police have been harassing the operator of the Waterloo restaurant is not so. The Royal Bahamas Police Force has expended a considerable amount of police resources in an effort to assist the operator in getting his business organized and again responding to complaints.

As the matter is now in the arena of the Magistrate’s court, I will not comment on the actions taken by the police officers on Sunday other than to commend them for doing their job.

I encourage all businesses to do their part to assist in keeping all safe during these most difficult times.

We stress that the interests of the proprietors, motorists and residents in the area of the restaurant were taken into account in dealing with this matter.

The Royal Bahamas Police remains resolute in enforcing the emergency orders and will continue to take the appropriate actions whenever we deem it necessary so to do.

Paul Rolle,

commissioner of police

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