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Police given permission to recruit resident non-Bermudians

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Commissioner of Police Darrin Simons (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Police have been given the go-ahead to open up recruitment to non-Bermudians living on the island after less than 10 per cent of recent applicants made it through to training school.

Darrin Simons earlier urged residents to apply for a career in the Bermuda Police Service as he revealed that health, fitness and psychological challenges limited the number of people taken on to become officers.

The Commissioner of Police said that of more than 100 applicants, only nine were selected to start a training course this week.

He told The Royal Gazette yesterday: “Because of the low numbers of people making it through, I have received permission to open recruiting to resident non-Bermudians.”

Mr Simons added: “Preference will always be given to Bermudian applicants.”

On-island hiring is usually restricted to Bermudians or spouses of Bermudians, according to information on the BPS website.

The BPS have a gap of about 50 between its funded establishment and the actual number in its ranks, with an overseas recruitment drive expected to add 15 officers.

Mr Simons said earlier this month: “I think a police service needs to represent its population as best it can and I think people who are from Bermuda are best positioned to police Bermuda.

“I take this opportunity to encourage anyone who is even remotely thinking about a career in policing to apply.

“A lot of people have misconceptions about what it means to be a police officer — they see the enforcement side of policing and they think that’s all we do.

“Clearly that’s a part of what we do, but we’re there to help people and it’s tremendously rewarding to help people in their times of need.”

Successful: 21 recruits after their initial training for the Bermuda Police Service at a passing out ceremony last summer (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Mr Simons explained that the BPS had 370 in their ranks and the funded establishment of full-time equivalent posts was increased from the 2022-23 revised figure of 404 to an estimated 424 in 2023-24.

The police commissioner said: “We want to get to 420 but we’ve got a ways to go.

“We have just started another round of local recruiting.”

He explained: “In the round of recruiting that has effectively finished, we got just over 100 applications from on-island and we just started a training course with about nine officers.”

Mr Simons added: “Is that small? Yes, it is below what we would definitely like to see; hence, we will be sending out advertisements for another intake.

“There are some real challenges within the community at this point in time.

“I said we had 100-plus applications and we have nine people entering the training school, so that’s almost a ten-to-one ratio of applications to people in the course.

“What we’re finding is that people are being screened out because of the health requirement … young people who are already suffering from diabetes, hypertension, early signs of coronary issues – we’re talking young people.

“That’s health, then there are people who just don’t pass the fitness test.”

The commissioner described that assessment as “not an insurmountable challenge” and said: “If somebody struggles to pass the fitness test, it really is because they are out of shape.”

He added: “We always have had people not passing the fitness test, the health test and the psychological screening, but now it is like more applicants are failing these things.”

Mr Simons said the matters were raised by a doctor who carried out medical assessments and a professional who performed psychological evaluations as part of the recruitment process.

He said: “This was the first time it was brought to my attention — separate individuals looking at candidates through a separate lens are saying, ‘Bermuda has a problem’.”

Mr Simons added: “What I heard for the first time is, ‘what I’m seeing in my psych evaluations is a noticeable amount of unresolved trauma and people who have wellness and mental health issues’.

“It was being flagged up as an issue not for an individual but generally for the nature of the applicants that were coming towards us.

“My concern is, if we look back at the early 2000s when the gun violence really started to rear its head — we’re now in 2023, and are we seeing some of those seeds of unresolved or unaddressed trauma that are now affecting our young people, in a way where it is creating challenges for a psych screening tool?

“I think it’s something that, as a community, we need to be aware of and need to begin to think about how that might be addressed.”

For anyone considering a career in the police, the commissioner highlighted that “no day is the same” and there were plenty of opportunities for training to lead officers into specialist roles.

He added that an “overwhelming majority” of calls to the service were to assist rather than enforce, such as in circumstances when people were involved in crashes or reported missing.

Mr Simons warned last year that specialist investigators were overwhelmed dealing with dozens of unsolved murders and attempted murders in addition to cases involving drugs, fraud and child sexual abuse.

He said then that the BPS were recruiting for about 30 posts locally — to include five officers that would join the community policing team.

A police spokesman added at the time that an overseas recruitment drive was expected to bring in eight experienced detectives from the Caribbean and Britain as well as seven accredited authorised firearms officers.

Mr Simons said this month that more than 50 interviews were carried out and although the hiring process was not yet complete, he was “very confident” the 15 posts would be filled.

He added that while the experienced detectives were likely to take on specialist investigations, the BPS will also look for opportunities to move existing Bermuda staff into specialist roles.

Mr Simons said: “We are always hopeful that new officers who are experienced share their expertise and mentor, coach and develop other officers, local officers, as they go throughout their day-to-day jobs.

“That’s definitely one of the benefits to bringing trained and experienced officers from other jurisdictions — they have different perspectives on how to do things, different processes, very often different models around investigations

“It’s always nice to be able to potentially integrate some of that into how we do what we do.”

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Published April 20, 2023 at 2:28 pm (Updated April 20, 2023 at 3:54 pm)

Police given permission to recruit resident non-Bermudians

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