Senators speak on Police Force (Amendment) Bill
Bahamas Information Services
During the morning session of the Senate, on August 9, 2012, members addressed the Police Force (Amendment) Bill, with a focus on the powers to appoint and dismiss the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioners of Police.
Minister of State in the Minister of National Security Senator the Hon. Keith Bell gave his full support to the amendments and pointed to the role of the Constitution in the powers, quoting Articles 119, 120 and 121.
"Good governance required the Commissioner to have security of tenure," Senator Bell said.
He also gave credit to former Minister of National Security the Hon. Frank Watson for the role he played in the early drafting of the original Police Service Bill, the amendments to which created by the former Government the current Government is moving to repeal.
"It is important that I once again pay tribute to the Hon. Frank Watson who had the vision, foresight, independence, care and concern for this country to put politics aside in the interest of national security," Senator Bell said.
Senator Bell added that the pension benefits for widows/widowers, children and parents of officers killed in the line of duty will remain in the amended Bill and were strengthened after a 2002 review of the Bill, requested by the then newly-elected Christie Administration.
"This Government promised to restore to the security of tenure to the office of Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner and by this Bill, we seek to do that," Senator Bell said.
"We have an abiding respect for our Constitution and the Rule of Law, and we will exert all resources necessary to protect both."
Senator Alex Storr offered his support for the amended Bill, stating that a properly functioning police force is necessary and that the Commissioner would no longer have to "tiptoe" along party lines. He agreed with Senator Bell in commending Urban Renewal 2.0 and the hardworking members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
"They put their lives on the line everyday and we must fully show them our support," Senator Storr said.
Senator the Hon. Gary Sawyer offered his support for the Bill and commended the "fine men and women of the armed forces" of the Royal Bahamas Police and Defence Forces for their hard work and dedicated service to The Bahamas.
"As good as our officers are, they can only implement within the confines of the laws that we pass here, in the Bahamian Parliament," Senator Sawyer said.
"As policy makers, we are mandated by the Bahamian people to craft effective policies and introduce crime-fighting programs that are executed by our officers in the forces."
As far as Urban Renewal is concerned, Senator Sawyer added that he knew "first hand" in Abaco the youth that were actively involved in marching bands under Urban Renewal and how such extracurricular activities kept them from being engaged in undesirable activities. He asked rhetorically if Urban Renewal or the amendment to the Act would stop every murder, rape and burglary.
"The answer is no," he answered. "Crime, unfortunately, will happen; but with the correct measures in place and with professional crime-fighting personnel and effective policies and programs for them to work with, it sure can greatly reduce a crime wave and bring security and a sense of peace back to our streets."
Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs Senator the Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson offered her support to the Amended Bill, the Commissioner of Police and Urban Renewal and she pointed to initiatives such as Swift Justice that are aiding in reducing the impact of crime on The Bahamas. She also encouraged Opposition senators to cross party lines and join in making a safer Bahamas.
© 2012 The Freeport News