Press March 1999
PROSECUTE ANYTHING THAT WORKS ....
Blink and you may have missed it ....
The Bermuda police force excelled itself again by prosecuting its own! Actually, 'prosecution' suggests there was a collective effort to collect and collate evidence, then present it before a Court. Fortunately for the officers concerned, the prosecution (apparently recommended by the Commissioner of Police) was once again in disarray.
Mind you, the defence was allegedly not that well prepared. One officer was allegedly represented by Julian Hall who, so I am informed, 'disappeared'. The officer was forced to seek out another lawyer and why not chose Julian's former associate, Delroy Duncan?
Delroy was better known to me as part of the Hall, Trott and Duncan legal association, in the early 90's. I clearly recall attending Supreme Court number 1 during the trail of Antonio Miranda, Ted Ming et al and being advised by a serving police officer that an agreement had been reached; we (the police) were 'not to mention a Barrister being associated with the importation of cocaine, in return the defence would not mention a senior police Officer being connected to the enquiry.
I was of the impression that we (the police), indeed Bermuda, lost out all round in that deal. In effect, we silenced, or covered up, the most important aspects of Bermuda's largest importation network. Who won? Clearly those whose names were not connected! The score:bad guys 2, good guys 0.
But what of recent developments...
The trial Monday 8th March 1999, of two officers accused of assaulting a prisoner never happened. The 'victim', 'complainant, 'injured party', call him what you will, failed to appear. No case for the prosecution, no case to answer ..... acquittal.
Deservedly so. From the e-mails I have received there is more to this than meets the eye.
Apparently, the assault never took place as alleged. It is said that a senior Officer had already made a statement to the police investigators confirming that the officers who were subsequently placed on trial DID NOT commit the offence. You have to ask yourself a (few) questions...
Who was going to gain from this farce? The COP? Possibly he wanted to be seen as the person placing his officers before a Court, a 'no body is above the law' approach. But when he had evidence from one of his own senior Officers that the offences had not been committed? Have there not been sufficient legal travesties on the Island to ensure the police shy away from such ridiculous ventures.
The size of the Island does make me question whether there is a larger conspiracy here than meets the eye. It is not beyond imagination to suppose the outcome of the trial had already been fixed. What does it take, a word here and there, the meeting of like minds.
We are talking about a Magistrates Court decision, no jury to worry about, simply a stipendiary Magistrate. I'm not suggesting this was what was intended, but the possibility exists. Why else prosecute a case with so much evidence stacked against success. Why put serving police officers through the hardship, waste public funds and jeopardize the police service's reputation? Two officers have been working daily for the Bermuda public in the knowledge they did not commit an offence (supported by the evidence of one senior Officer) but may well lose their jobs following a trial that could only be stacked against them.
The 'wild card' in this apparent gamble by the prosecutors was the 'victim'. Faced with the possibility of being cross-examined and the facts being put, it appears he chose the safest way out. Run for cover. Perjury is a serious matter and not easily undertaken by those unfamiliar with the judicial process (think about that sentence).
I will not name the senior Officer who supported the defendants, to do so would be undermining his position still further. It is clear the C.O.P. does not believe the Officer, if he did then the prosecution would never have been progressed. How must it feel to be that Officer? How can the COP survive when he does not trust those in senior positions below him? What faith can Bermuda place in their police service with so much internal distrust?
It is rumored within the force that the multiple mistakes associated with prosecutions is causing a serious loss of face to the COP. Well, despite wishing the contrary, here is another one. I feel it only right to mention the Attorney General's chambers, apparently they to agreed to the prosecution.
To the officers concerned I say the following:
You have lost. Your names are now tainted within the force. In a service of 460, your record will bear the mark of this action and in the mind of those who matter (to your career) you are guilty. On the basis you have nothing to lose, a civil action may prove to be your only saving. This is a matter for you but I wish you the very best. At a time when your Country is crying out for Bermudian officers it appears foolhardy in the extreme to subject serving staff to such ridicule. What an advertisement.
RECRUITMENT: a job in Bermuda is short -term
Bermuda needs yet more police. Not content with holding first place in the world for the number of police officers per head of population, they are seeking staff far and wide. The IMMEDIATE recruitment of overseas police officers is being called for by shadow home affairs minister Michael Dunkley
When speaking to the Bermuda Sun, Mr. Dunkley said he thought it useless for the PLP to have set aside $50,000 as a reserve measure to fund the re-birth of overseas recruitment and if manpower is low and there's a shortage of Bermudians coming forward then, in the short term, to bolster numbers, Bermuda should recruit from overseas.
Monday's double armed robbery is according to Commissioner Wayne Perinchief, indicative of a society which sees cracks in its Police Service.
Wake up guys. Your drug problem is indicative of the utter contempt shown of the police service by those who import and distribute.
Apparently, with regard to overseas recruitment, three-year contracts would be the best solution. Another issue was the new police building and drug court on Court Street. An Island of 65,000 inhabitants with a 'drug Court'. That is some serious drug problem!
Bermudian's do not need to be other than introverted. That is not to say all are. The majority of the inhabitants are content with their life-style and so they should be, they live on a beautiful island and enjoy a peaceful existence. I would not put anyone off the island for a holiday or to work.
But there is a serious drug problem, worse than I have ever encountered in the UK. Bermuda's laws are sufficient (Asset Forfeiture needs to be revisited) and the Courts have the power to hand out deterrent sentences. Still the offences are committed by many. Why? Because law enforcement is disjointed, ineffectual, self-serving and inexperienced. There is little fear associated with capture because the rewards are high and the probability of detection low.
If caught there is a general belief a prosecution will not follow or will be unsuccessful. With the current in-fighting in the force a further distraction, the effectiveness of the police service is diluted still further. Only last year an officer admitted, in a drug trial, to be asked to change her statement by fellow officers!
Did heads roll? No - in my mind the officers behind that farce can never be trusted to give an accurate account of an incident. Their credibility has gone, they are worthless in a confrontational, active, situation. But hey, it's Bermuda. If that's the quality of police service you want, then expect the resultant level of detection and conviction. Blank search warrants, a narcotics office with sufficient 'spare evidence' to taint and sample passing through it and the sheer audacity to expect a fellow officer to change their evidence, are all indicative of a department out of control, a law unto themselves. How is anyone expected to take the service seriously?
As for experienced officers ...
If I want a new bathroom suite fitted, I hire a plumber. If my car breaks down I call a mechanic. In short, I employ someone with the appropriate skills and the correct tools to efficiently eradicate the problem. Bermuda should be purchasing the skills and providing the tools. The island is attractive to many potential overseas recruits and this has 'purchasing power'. Bermuda has something to offer; an good environment, a career (possibly) and attractive salary. Why hire 10 officers for 5 years when you could have 20 officer for 2.5 years?
You could swamp the island with trained officers in the short term. Admittedly, it takes time to become acquitted with the island and there is a cost in bringing an officer back from overseas if they are subsequently required to give evidence. But in terms of the overall cost of being tarnished with a drug capital of the world label, this expense is minimal.
It all appears to be about cost. Not cost to the inhabitants, but cost to the Government.
If your house is burgled by a junkie, claim on your Insurance. There is no cost to the Government. If you are assaulted by a drug user during a robbery, claim on your insurance and see your doctor. Little cost to the Government. If a bank is robbed, odds on the haul will be minimal and swallowed by the bank as accountable 'wastage'. No, or little cost to the Government.
The cost comes in investigating, supplying the staff, facilities and equipment. Let's face it, narcotics is a 'victimless crime', it is not a quantifiable statistic.
'Victimless' is harsh when we know there are users who suffer and frequently die. But they chose (not in every case) to participate and knew (not in every case) the risks. My sympathy is extended to the families of drug users. But the crime is 'victimless' in that it is principally about the buying a selling of a commodity. Simple supply and demand considerations demonstrate that the commodity is desired by many. The commodity is the subject of prohibition which creates the 'crime'.
But unless the 'crime' is detected, in the main it stays underground. It principally surfaces when there is the need to commit crime for funding the habit or a death occurs. Otherwise, it not seen and effectively troubles no one. There are health, work and safety issues associated with its use but l have yet to see these make the headlines.
Unless your narcotics and Customs officers are making arrests and seizures, there is no means by which to quantify the problem. That the only means by which to quantify the problem is the seizure statistics it follows that you should reduce the number of narcotics officers - less officers = less arrests = reduced seizures = less of a quantifiable 'problem'.
I do not advocate the above, it simply demonstrates the farcical in which Bermuda finds itself. You already have the highest density of police officers per head of population anywhere in the world, you want more. It appears your Government do not want to pay the price and secure for you a competent service.
I would suggest the way to gauge the drug problem on the Island is by the price of the commodity. Narcotics prices have not increased in the last 10, possibly 20 years. Again, simple 'supply and demand' logic dictates the island's police and Customs services have had no effect on the problem. If you consider supply and demand in terms of the product we are dealing with (narcotics) I would suggest distributors are unlikely to lower their price even if supply increases. This is partly due to the fact that the product is unusual in that it is illegal, this enhances its value and I suspect is used, in times of high supply, to keep prices constant.
At best the island is maintaining the status quo. In reality I suspect the island is losing and the supply is increasing.
It must be remembered; drug dealers have few rules, no laws. You do not dictate a drug dealers habits or resources. What the drug suppler wants he gets, whether by further crime or simply spending his ill-gotten gains. Whether it is the means by which to import or distribute, the dealer can buy the latest. Law enforcement agencies do not have this luxury - requests for equipment are met by budgetary restrictions. Access to information or other evidence may require beaurocratic procedures to be adopted. Even when it comes to legal representation. The drug dealer can retain the best. Whilst there are some very good, conscientious, public minded lawyers who work for Governments, the question often posed of them is "why, if you are any good, work for a Government salary when you could be making good money in private practice". For some the answer is simple, they wish to provide a public service. The suggestion however is that they lack ability, the Government gets the left overs. I appreciate this is a little simplistic.
Most Bermudan officers simply do not have the opportunity to gain enough experience. Why not reverse the roles. Send Bermudian officers, young men and women, to work in some of the busier areas of the UK for 6 months, a year? The experience they will gain would exceed their wildest dreams. Why not approach the Metropolitan police service? There is said to be a problem with 'institutionalized racism', so send the UK some Bermudan officers to mix with the established service.
The above are just ideas 'off the top of my head'. Bermuda needs to think laterally if it to tackle the problem. You will achieve nothing if you simply throw more local officers at a task they are ill-equipped to deal with. Similarly, you do not need to import a load of English beach-bums who have no interest in committing themselves to tackling the communities problems.
But first, get your house in order.
The discipline code continues to divide the lower ranks from the Officer cadre. FSI are a tool of oppression and create a 'them and us' environment. The manner in which discipline is applied reflects nothing short of bullying tactics and for many it is simpler and safer to be silent than criticise. Such fear promotes greater abuses; the perpetrators, having succeeded once, gain confidence and experience. Abuses are the norm.
Bermuda has very little in its police service to be proud of. Certainly holding the record for the highest number of police officers per head of population, on a small, tranquil island, is hardly a glowing accolade. If you do not have a crime problem then there is clearly a problem with return fromt he staff. How can other countries survive greater crime problems with less officers? Greater productivity?
The recent promotions reflect an inherent problem; the lack of experienced officers from which to pick 'leaders' ....
PROMOTIONS - ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF DISCRIMINATION?
Apparently, the appointment of a Bermudian Police Commissioner has moved closer to reality. Three local officers were promoted to the top of the service. Chief Inspectors Gertrude Barker, Jonathan Smith and George Jackson were promoted to the rank of Superintendent.
Commissioner Jean-Jacques Lemay, remains the only ex-patriate officer in the top flight. Deputy Commissioner Harold Moniz is Bermudian while third in command, Assistant Commissioner Alan Bissell, has Bermudian status.
With this concentration of Bermudian Officers holding the most powerful and influential positions in the service, one could be forgiven for thinking there is no place for believing there is a future for the ex-pat. But it appears equality does not come into it. You must be a Bermudian or have status to succeed.
It is evident this is the way of the police service, the island demands it. Employment for the ex-pat is short term and hazardous.
I have met each of the officer above with the exception of the COP, Mr. Lemay who, I have already detailed on this site, I consider to be a liar. Mr. Lemay has made a false statement and I trust anyone who is confronted by him will bear this in mind. To quote Julian Hall, when defending one of those associated with the Miranda investigation (1991):
"My client is a liar, but he is telling the truth now"
Possibly the same could be said for the COP, Mr. Lemay. But how do you know when he is lying? If I were cynical I would say that this occurs when his lips move. Mr. Lemay, from my experience, is someone who cannot be trusted.
Of the recent promotions, I was amazed to see George Jackson yet again moving upward. George was probably the most ineffectual officer I met in the Narcotics office and was totally out of his depth. Furthermore, he lacks the strength to support his fellow officer. When dealing with George, obtain everything in writing - he will double back on what has been said or forget his remarks, whatever offers the least line of resistance.
One day he informed me not to report the ongoing investigation to the head of Narcotics, Dennis Ramsey. Within 7 days I was before the COP being told my move back to uniform was for insubordination (not keeping the head of Narco advised of the ongoing investigation). George Jackson was present when I was informed of this by the COP, he said nothing.
George was also one of the Officers who was aware the Narco office used blank, signed (by a J.P.) search warrants. I suspect he has denied this emphatically. More will be revealed about this Officer as the Miranda pages progress to include comments made by overseas investigators. In brief, the standing joke was George could not find his arse-hole with a magnifying glass and a mirror. If he wanted to win an argument, he simply shouted louder than anyone else. If you wanted to distract him, simply mention another subject when he was talking to someone and he'd go off at a tangent.
Mention has been made of political promotions in the press. I can only assume that is precisely what has happened with George. 'George for Commissioner of Police', let us herald the dawning of another crime wave and set the island back still further.
Do you really have such a lack of faith in your officers or a belief that they are incompetent that you are forced to resort to such extreme measures. God help you.
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