St George’s police station could reopen
St George’s police station could reopen as part of a two-year plan to increase the visibility of officers across the island, Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley said yesterday.
Mr Corbishley also promised a fresh commitment to parish constables to promote community policing.
He said: “We will see police officers in each and every parish across Bermuda working on a day-to-day basis with local residents, community leaders, businesses, voluntary services as well as the church.
Mr Corbishley added that it was essential the police had a strong relationship with communities.
He said: “Quite often the danger in policing is we become like a fire brigade where we turn up, we put the fire out and we drive off into the distance and we don’t recognise community issues.”
Mr Corbishley added: “One of the other things that we are doing is we are reopening our police stations. We are investing in putting resources in those local communities ... and I am committed to give each and every person in Bermuda their own local police service.”
He said: “It’s right across the island and we are taking each location as we go forward and we will be looking at every single police station that we’ve got, trying to put some kind of resources in there.
“And even if the resource is not there 24 hours a day, that they will receive support from officers and staff that we have here.”
A police spokesman added later: “The commissioner is still in consultation as to the most effective way to police the town of St George and we are reviewing a menu of options that will allow us to be most effective in that role.”
Mr Corbishley said a good connection with communities would allow officers to listen to the people and work with those in danger of gang involvement.
He added: “The public wants to see our police officers in their communities, they want to build relationships. They also feel reassured when they see a police officer, particularly one that they see every day.”
Mr Corbishley said that uniformed police as well as plain-clothes officers from the Criminal Investigation Department would be deployed at the community level.
He added that serious and organised crime would also be a major part of the change programme.
Mr Corbishley said: “We recognise the challenge that we have with lots of gun-related violence and we will do more work, be more focused and target those responsible, but also engage the communities to get their information, their support and to help them to be more confident.”
St George’s police station closed in 2007, but was later reopened and operated on a part-time basis.
It was shuttered again in 2012 for repairs but never reopened. The area is policed from Southside station in St David’s.
Residents in St George welcomed the news that the town could have a bigger police presence in the future.
Kenneth Bascome, a former One Bermuda Alliance MP for the area and ex-mayor, said: “It is still one of my pressing issues for the town of St George.”
He added that the town’s World Heritage status, as well as two banks and four restaurants, made a police presence essential.
Mr Bascome said: “A lot of people won’t come out after dark because they are a bit apprehensive.
“St George should have a fully functional station.”
He added: “If that’s a fact, I would say to the commissioner, thank you.”
Henry Hayward, also a former mayor, backed Mr Bascome.
He said: “I think it would be desirable to have the police station in St George’s. It is an important town, with a new hotel coming and with a lot of rentals taking place. A police station is important in the town.”
Mr Corbishley said the change programme would focus on seven main areas, including better training for officers and police staff, a fresh approach to the treatment of vulnerable people like victims of sexual and domestic abuse.
He added: “I really do believe that this change programme will make a fundamental difference to the services that we provide to all communities in Bermuda, it will ensure that we are more attentive, we are more able to listen, but, most importantly, we are more able to respond to keep Bermuda safer.”
Mr Corbishley said the promotion of six sergeants to inspector last week represented a commitment “to invest in the talent that we have and to support Bermudians in going forward”.
He added: “But we need to focus around other aspects of training particularly in regards to leadership.”
Mr Corbishley said he wanted to gauge how people felt about the police and do another survey in the next six to 12 months to see if the changes had altered perception of the service.
The change programme is led by Superintendent Na’imah Astwood.
Mr Corbishley said he expected to achieve the objectives of the change programme inside the present police budget, but that he would welcome additional funds from the Government.