Colin Coxall



 Saint or Sinner?

The alternate lives of Colin Coxall (former Commissioner of Police)

Those of you that are even mildly confused about the performance of Police Commissioner Colin Coxall, nod your head. Okay, now you can stop; I can’t type very well with my head moving around. The Commissioner’s tenure has been surrounded by more rhetoric, fact and fiction than most of us could chew. Here is a look at why Commissioner Colin Coxall will not soon be forgotten.

Operation Cleansweep

Operation Clean Sweep was a drug sting on drug pushers, which was long overdue in the minds of many Bermuda residents. The open market peddling of drugs was rampant in Bermuda, particularly in residential neighborhoods. It was estimated that amounts in excess of $20,000 were being sold in individual street markets per day. Operation Clean Sweep has removed those drug dealers from these markets, and seen them receive sentences fitting for their crimes. Additionally, with the drug element being removed from the streets, neighborhoods have been made much safer. We have Commissioner Coxall to thank for having the courage to execute such an effective plan to eradicate drugs in Bermuda.

 Although it had several very positive side effects on neighborhoods, Operation Clean Sweep was most likely a political exercise. Crime statistics in January of 1997 showed that crime was indeed up from the year before. What better way to counter those figures than by launching a grandiose campaign like Operation Clean Sweep? Any serious attempt at ridding Bermuda of its drug problems would not start with small-time two-bit street hustlers. The same street hustlers are already in prison, yet more street hustlers easily replaced them. There was also an element of racism in OCS, in that only areas frequented by blacks were targeted. Not to mention the fact that such dramatic tactics have yet to be used on sophisticated drug importers, who more often than not tend to be white and quite affluent.

 The Fall in Crime

Commissioner Coxall’s managerial acumen can easily be seen in the decline of Bermuda’s Crime rates. For the first nine months of this year, crime decreased by more than 35%, when compared to the same nine-month period in 1994. Acts of violent crime such as murder and armed robbery were also down by more than 70% and 40% respectively. Crime has been on the continued rise in the last five years, and these recent statistics are proof that the Police must be doing something right. Ideas such as civilianizing the force, as well as moving more officers to non-office duties has had a dramatic effect on crime.

Commissioner Coxall came to Bermuda in early 1995, which would mean that a great deal of the initial fall in crime from 1994 would have come from practices implemented before he came. What he can take full credit for is the fall from 1995 – 1997, and he can take partial credit for what happens in 1998. Crime figures from 1996 to 1997 actually are up, clearly showing that there isn’t a consistent trend in a fall in crime. Bermuda also has a very high rate of recidivism, which would naturally cause a cyclical effect on crime figures. If you incarcerate a large percentage of criminals, with sentences longer than twelve months, the resulting year’s figures will show a reduction in crime. The new West Gate Prison is now full, with prisoners being released early to make space for new prisoners. This clearly shows that the rate of incarceration is up. Bermuda’s small population and arms laws would also have an effect on statistics. If you have one armed robbery in one year, and none the next, statistically you would have a 100% decrease in armed robberies.

Irving Pearman Affair

The Irving Pearman affair clearly shows the integrity of Commissioner Coxall. Here we have a situation where a well-respected MP has been found to be well-connected to known drug dealers. This would be a highly contentious issue for an officer of the law. Coxall did the proper thing by bringing the matter to the Governor's attention. Premier Pamela Gordon has said that nothing in Commissioner Coxall’s report on John Irving Pearman was worthy of Pearman’s resignation or firing, but can you actually believe that? This six page report led the Governor to recommended his resignation – well surely there must have been something in those pages that disturbed the Commissioner and the Governor!

John Irving Pearman has a distinguished career in serving Bermuda. In a nutshell, if Commissioner Coxall had serious evidence against John Irving Pearman, he had the option of pressing charges. The fact that this wasn’t done shows that either his evidence was weak, placing John Irving Pearman above the law blew up in his face, or that the UBP has covered the situation up. He never took the time to clear up the confusion by refuting the Premier and the Governor’s claims; therefore, if the Premier and Governor are unchallenged, he must be a corrupt or very foolish cop.


I don’t believe that Bermuda could have obtained a better Police Commissioner. With a proven record in England, he came here to demonstrate his consummate abilities. Bermuda has to ask itself if it wants a Bermudian head of Police, or if it wants the best in policing. External audits of the force showed that the force had undergone fundamental changes under Commissioner Coxall’s leadership. Those changes had resulted in the drastic fall in crime and improvements in the overall structure of the Police Force. That report also concluded that a qualified Bermudian would not be found for at least another ten years. Who could argue with this report.

 Would a man with such a career give up his post if he did not have some strong indication that his contract would be extended past the initial term? He must have had the understanding that he would hold the post until retirement. If he had only expected to be here for three years, he would have had his next post lined up, regardless of leaving Bermuda five months early. His option was to retire, which is hardly the actions of a man only intending to be here for three years. Any report about Bermudianization would have to justify him being here until retirement. Why would he set a Bermudian in place to ruin his last hurrah? All other top Bermudian cops were eliminated upon his arrival, clearly leaving no possible immediate challengers to the post. He even failed to write a succession plan for Bermudianization.


 It is a shame on Bermuda to allow Commissioner Coxall to become a sacrificial lamb in the sour politics of Operation Clean Sweep. It is apparent that something is being covered up, as the Minister of Public Safety has done an about face on the Commissioner. First he is lauded for his work, next he is despised for not producing a report on Bermudianization. Am I to believe the Honorable Member, Quintin Edness, when at first he denied any involvement in the resignation? Mr. Edness previously claimed that the resignation was because of the Opposition’s constant criticism of Commissioner Coxall. Am I now supposed to believe that Mr. Edness is telling the truth, or will I find out a month from now that this too was a lie?

"Rumors" about Colin Coxall’s dislike of Bermudians, and blacks in particular, ran silently over the last three years. Only once did we hear of disgruntled Police Officers having a closed-door meeting with the Governor. It has even been claimed that he labeled Bermuda a banana republic. Other statements were to the effect that he preferred the RBYC crowd to others. Quintin Edness has claimed that Commissioner Coxall refused to produce a succession plan in a very disrespectful manner. I’ll bet that "very disrespectful" was indicative of the sentiments expressed by others several times before. Quintin Edness probably put his job on the line, because this time Colin Coxall had the "gall" to look down his nose on the wrong person. Then again, this is depending on whether or not you believe Quintin Edness





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