The following is a written adaptation of my motion to adjourn address in Parliament last Friday
In our younger years there was never a time of positive relations between the Bermuda Police Force, as it was called then, and the people from “back of town”. The police did not take kindly to us and we did not take kindly to the police.
Over the years, numerous reports have spoken about the tense relationship between the police and black Bermudians as a whole, and young black men in particular.
Coming from the back of town, primarily because of how the police abused, harassed and mistreated us, we used to “chant” anyone of our friends or family who joined the force. Simply put, we called them “baldheads” or “Babylon”.
Over the course of time, we realised a few salient facts:
• It was, in the main, the police officers from Britain who treated us as if we were hardened criminals, by constantly stopping and arresting us for no reason
• It was our very own local Bermudian officers who were firm but fair
• Eventually, we were proud to see our very own rise in the ranks
• Eventually, we somehow believed that Bermudians were now in full control of the Bermuda Police Force
Sadly, with Her Majesty’s governor, John Rankin, recently appointing British-based Chief Superintendent Stephen Corbishley as the next Bermuda police commissioner, we see yet again that we are living a pipe dream regarding Bermudian professional advancement.
After the 1977 riots, a report was tabled that spoke specifically to the urgent need for a Bermudian police commissioner. Some 40 years later, we are faced yet again, with someone, who may have visited this island once, now being appointed as the head of the Bermuda Police Service.
What message does this send to our very own Bermudian police officers?
It tells them that no matter how hard they work, no matter how many professional courses they take, they very well may never reach the top.
What message does this send to the people of Bermuda?
Yet again, it tells us this simple message: no matter how qualified our people are for top police jobs, as long as we are not in control of the decision-making process, we as Bermudians will have no say in who becomes the next police commissioner.
Unfortunately, this is reflective of many other situations in almost all sectors of society, where qualified Bermudians are working towards further advancement, only to be told that they are not fit for promotion.
For the sake of our Bermudian police officers on the front line striving to move upward, we must ensure this never happens in the future.
Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him at WhatsApp on 599-0901 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org