Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle said yesterday that the force is in need of about 300 constables in order to avoid an impending vacuum in the lower ranks.
“Right now, I need about 300 constables,” he said while delivering the keynote address during a combined law enforcement intelligence course that was being held at Police Headquarters.
“[T]hat will give us a cushion for a couple of years.”
Rolle added, “Many of us who joined in the ‘80s, the clock is running. I recall, when I graduated, there was a period of about four to five years when there was no recruitment.
“That’s what is the scary thing for me right now, because there’s going to be almost an avalanche when those in my era leave. And so, if we don’t act now, we are going to have a big vacuum, which is going to be almost 250 to 300 officers.
“And so, to head that off, I’m trying to fix it because I know it’s coming and you’ll see that in about two to three years.”
The requirements for retirement in the force are when officers reach age 60 or have 40 years of service.
Rolle joined the Royal Bahamas Police Force in 1983, 37 years ago.
A major challenge facing the force is that a number of senior officers have two years or less before their retirement.
A manpower audit of the force, which was conducted in 2017, found that the organization was too top-heavy with senior officers.
The audit found that there was an 800-officer deficit in the rank of constable and recommended that only 11 officers hold the rank of chief superintendent as “review of the rank structure and associated primary duties revealed absolutely no differences in the job descriptions of superintendents and chief superintendents”.
It also found that the promotional practices on the force are “outdated, lack consistency and standardization”.
Training and discipline
During his speech, Rolle also said he is placing a renewed focus on police force discipline and training, saying it has eroded over the years and some officers have “lost their way”.
“Over the last few years, we have moved the goal post of discipline in the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF),” he said.
“And it is my intention to realign the markers, so that the practice of discipline as we knew it is returned.
“New corporals must accept your responsibility as first-line supervisors and perform the tasks required to ensure that every constable fully understands his or her role in this organization, as I believe some have lost their way.”
In a later interview, Rolle said: “The discipline over the years, we’ve seen a reduction simply because I think we used to have the training, particularly with the sergeant, and that particular aspect of discipline has eroded. I’m trying to bring it back.
“We want our officers to be able to go out and represent this organization in a professional manner in all aspects.”
Rolle added, “Trust in public services starts with openness, which means a willingness to accept feedback, even when it is critical, and to learn from it.”
Rolle told more than a dozen officers in attendance that their performance is vital for the reputation of the force.