The police need the public’s support

Dear Editor,

Can you imagine going to work each day and not being sure you’ll survive your shift and see your family again? Most of us can’t, but for police officers and their families, that is an everyday fact of life. Police officers aren’t perfect. They make mistakes like everyone else.

But, recently, there has been a lot of careless misinformation and undeserving negativity directed at them from the public, a public that demands protection but is unwilling to respect the law and give it its full support.

One such occasion that comes to mind was during one of the Junkanoo parades where we were told that a few policemen paddled the behinds of some unruly young men.

What was not told is how there were several groups of such young men roaming the spectator areas, misbehaving and being aggressive toward young girls, touching and pawing all over their bodies. These young men/boys left home with intentions of creating mischief.

Speaking from a personal point of view, I have no objections to what the officers did because if my son was carrying on in such a manner I would have no problem with him taking a whack on his behind to straighten him out. Better that than to have him spend 48-96 hours in a cell and have to appear before the courts charged with unruly public behavior or worse, aggravated sexual assault, for one.

Instead of bashing these officers, parents should be thankful for their leniency and use this as an opening to have more meaningful communication with their kids.

While I cannot speak for Commissioner Ferguson, I can identify with his comments on how police officers are recruited because in both my professional and private life, my input was required in charting the future of many young people. I have always tried to be as forthright as possible but unfortunately, with no intent to deceive, there were one or two persons that failed to live up to my recommendations and to my embarrassment, fell through the cracks.

Maybe it did not come out right, but the commissioner was only speaking the truth when he insinuated that some people were not completely truthful when queried about the background of recruit candidates for the force.

For as far back as I can remember, security checks were mostly done by talking to the neighbors, teachers and pastors of the candidates. Sadly, sometimes information is withheld giving undeserving candidates a pass.

Most of the times those questioned don’t mean any harm. They are just trying to be helpful and are praying for the best by giving the youth a chance to turn his life around.

The police force is an institution comprised of dedicated men and women of integrity, but like in most such institutions, there will be one or two who do not meet that criteria.

The police are, by duty, bound to uphold the law, but they need the public’s help if they are to be successful.

The men and women of this profession and their families sacrifice far too much. They are the guardians of our families, homes, communities and our way of life. Simply put, they deserve a lot better than they’ve received from many in our country lately.

Two such outstanding retired police officers who have dedicated their entire lives to making The Bahamas a better place to live are Assistant Superintendent Edmund Lewis and Chief Superintendent Irvin Taylor.

Officer Taylor, who is 81, is at the “it was a very good year” stage of his life and is no longer active on the force. He has left a legacy that others can only attempt to emulate and will go down in history as one of the officers that raised the Bahamian flag on independence morning.

Officer Lewis, whose dedication extends far beyond the call of duty, is at the “I’m having the time of my life” stage. He is a reservist and at the age of 82, is the oldest serving police on the force.

These gentlemen served when, at the height of their career, The Bahamas was being characterized as a corrupt country and labeled a nation for sale.

For all of my adult life, I have had the good fortune of being friends with and mentored by both of them and can say without a shadow of doubt that throughout their tenure, they were impeccable men of distinction who have always been above reproach and served their country with dignity and pride.

Not only were they role models on the police force, they were great sportsmen who excelled in the sport of cricket and represented the country all over the world. They are recognized today as some of the best that have ever graced the cricket fields, both in The Bahamas and internationally.

These two heroes should have been honored years ago but because they are not politicians, we will have to wait for their demise to read in the obituaries of their sacrificial contributions and how valuable they were to the nation.

But until then, I appeal to the patriotic people of The Bahamas to join me in saluting these two great men of our Royal Bahamas Police Force.

Officer Edmund Lewis and officer Irvin Taylor, we are confident that history will be as kind to you as you were to us.

Thank you for your unselfish contribution in building our nation. Well done my dear friends. God bless you.

Anthony Pratt

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