Gerald Gerry James (1931-2019)
A former chief inspector in the Bermuda Police Service dubbed a “legend” by colleagues has died.
Gerald James, known as Gerry, was 87.
Mr James joined what was then the Bermuda Police Force in 1960 and served in roles including Pembroke Parish Constable, as a member of the Police Motor Cycle Display Team and the Police Band, and as the Black Rod — the official who plays a leading role in the ceremonial opening of Parliament.
Mr James was also a keen trumpeter and helped found the Musicians Club in the 1960s on Brunswick Street in Hamilton.
He wrote for the Bermuda Ex-Police Association that he decided to rent the basement premises as “an ideal location for a group of musicians to practise and hang out”.
The popular club attracted overseas performers, including jazz legend Louis Armstrong, as well as island artists.
Mr James said afterwards that meeting Armstrong was “one of my most unforgettable experiences”.
Roger Sherratt, a former chief inspector who runs the Bermuda Ex-Police Association, said Mr James was “a legend — he was my sergeant for a while, and just a pleasure to work with”.
Mr James was promoted to chief inspector in 1981 and retired four years later.
He was awarded the Colonial Police Medal for Meritorious Service in 1986 after 26 years’ service in Bermuda and ten years in the British Honduras Police, in what is now Belize.
Mr James, who was born and brought up in British Honduras, joined the country’s police when he was 19.
His father had been born in Bermuda and Mr James visited family on the island in 1956.
He wrote: “Quite honestly, I didn’t really like Bermuda at that time. I didn’t like the racial situation — the prejudice.”
But he decided to join the Bermuda Police Force after another visit and started in the central division at Hamilton Police Station as one of only two black officers in the city.
His girlfriend, Gloria, followed him to Bermuda and the couple married in 1962.
Mr Sherratt said Mr James had been “a fantastic parish constable”.
He added that Mr James, a keen bodybuilder in his younger days, was “not to be tangled with by lawbreakers”.
Mr Sherratt said Mr James won fame in the force after he tackled a man in a nightclub who brandished a broken bottle and threatened to kill police officers.
He added: “Gerry hit him one time. He was disarmed and arrested solely by Gerry — we were in awe.”
Mr James served as the warehouse manager for Frith’s Liquors after he retired from the force.
A service in celebration of Mr James’s life was held on July 29.