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At 81, Neville is writing about his life and recording it on film

At 81, Neville Darrell still loves motorbikes (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

Neville Darrell is 81, but has no thoughts of retirement.

After a long and varied career that included stints as a police officer, an insurance salesman, and a security services firm owner, he is still working.

“Officially, I’m a taxi driver, although I haven’t driven in a while,” the St George's resident said. “One should never retire. I tend to always keep myself active in different ways.”

In 2002, he published Acel’dama, a book about his police career. With the help of Rick Richardson, the former chief executive of the Bermuda Broadcasting Company, he is making it into a documentary that he hopes will be completed this year.

Mr Darrell is also writing a sequel to the book. His favourite time to work is in the early hours of the morning, when most people are asleep.

“I am at my most creative at that time,” he said. “When I was a police officer that was also the best time to arrest someone; the clubs were closed and most people are at home at 4 or 5am.”

He became an officer in 1960. Then 19, he intended to only do the job for six months.

“I wanted to earn money to study abroad to become a teacher.”

His friends laughed when he told them about his new job. Together, they had committed multiple petty crimes through their teens.

Mr Darrell decided it was time for change after the people he and his friends planned on robbing turned on them.

“I realised that I could be hurt in return,” he said.

He and his friends started reading about and practising self-defence techniques. Mr Darrell was seduced by the philosophy in many of the books - that it was always better to avoid a fight and not cause harm.

Six months into his job with the police, he realised that he had not earned enough to go overseas and actually liked the work he was doing.

“It came easy to me,” said Mr Darrell, who worked in every department during his 17 years as an officer. “It was quite an interesting and challenging job. It can be very rewarding, particularly if you are people-oriented.”

As a youngster he and his friends had flown up and down the island on their motorcycles, breaking traffic laws. As part of the cycle squad he loved chasing down speeders; he once rode up a set of church steps in fast pursuit.

He was promoted to sergeant in 1970, a decade after he joined the Bermuda Police Force. Mr Darrell attributes his slow rise in ranks to the racism then in play - it typically took White officers three years to be promoted and Black officers much longer.

At 30, he was the youngest Bermudian to rise that high. In an interview with the Mid-Ocean News a reporter wrote that he might one day become Commissioner of Police.

His supervising officer did not take the comment well. Deciding that he was getting too big for his breeches, he urged other officers to catch Mr Darrell in any misdemeanour they could.

“He said that the last time he declared war on an officer, he was gone in three months,” Mr Darrell said.

“At one point my daughter stopped by the station to visit. I was standing outside without my cap on my head. They wrote me up for being out of uniform.

“If I was a minute late to work I was written up.”

The final straw came during the investigation of a sexual assault in Tucker’s Town.

“I was instructed to go to the home of the victim, along with several others,” Mr Darrell said. “When I got to the scene, it was crawling with policemen. So I took it upon myself to leave there and set up a roadblock near the Swizzle Inn. I knew the culprit would not sit around waiting for police.”

He was careful to note the particulars of every car that passed through the roadblock.

Furious that he had disobeyed an order, his boss demoted him.

“To punish me, I was put back in uniform,” Mr Darrell said. “The information I took down at the road block led to the capture of a rapist, but I never heard anything about it afterward.

“I made up my mind that I could take any type of treatment they wanted to dish out. There was no way I was going to leave."

Scotland Yard turned to Mr Darrell for help in catching Erskine “Buck” Burrows, the main suspect in the 1972 shooting of George Duckett, the Commissioner of Police, and the 1973 shootings of the Governor, Sir Richard Sharples, his aide-de-camp Hugh Sayers and grocery store employees Victor Rego and Mark Doe.

“At that time there was a wall of silence from the community,” Mr Darrell said.

After much nosing about, he discovered where Burrows was hiding and relayed the information to Scotland Yard. He was present when police finally caught Burrows during a large-scale operation on Parsons Road in Pembroke.

In December 1973, Mr Darrell received a commendation from the Governor for his role in the capture but he was never promoted again.

In 1978 joined Crown Life of Canada as an insurance salesman, and then moved on to Kitson & Co. Later, he formed his own security company.

“It was a relief to be out of the police, to some extent,” he said. “But I also missed it.”

Lifestyle profiles the island’s senior citizens every Wednesday. Contact Jessie Moniz Hardy on 278-0150 or jmhardy@royalgazette.com with the full name and contact details and the reason you are suggesting them

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Published January 19, 2022 at 7:58 am (Updated January 20, 2022 at 8:00 am)

At 81, Neville is writing about his life and recording it on film

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