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‘He is a consummate professional’

Long service: Michael DeSilva

Bermuda’s Commissioner of Police is to retire in the summer after 32 years of service.

Michael DeSilva will step down in June after more than eight years in the top job, he said last night. It is understood the job will be advertised nationally and internationally.

Mr DeSilva said: “It was not an easy decision to retire and leave a career of over 32 years in the making.

“I am passionate about policing and I have dedicated my entire adult life to public service.”

He added: “I am grateful to all of my colleagues, past and present, for their support and commitment during my tenure. It has been an honour and a privilege to lead so many dedicated and skilled police officers, support staff, reserves and cadets.

“I am proud of the significant impact we have made in helping to reduce violence, but there is more to be done.

“After eight years as commissioner, it is the right time to let someone else lead the BPS from its senior post and continue the mission of making Bermuda safer.”

Mr DeSilva picked June 15 as his last day in the job so he could complete his term as president of the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police and his last official duties at the Queen’s Birthday Parade.

He said: “The time is also right for me to move on to the next chapter.”

Mr DeSilva added: “It has been deeply rewarding to serve the community as a police officer.

“The experience has shaped my life both as a professional and as a person. I shall remember it fondly.”

Wayne Caines, Minister of National Security, described Mr DeSilva as a “consummate professional of unparalleled commitment to policing and the safety of Bermuda”.

Mr Caines added: “Since his appointment in 2009, the paradigm shift in policing Bermuda has been led head-on by Commissioner DeSilva.

“Successive ministers and governments have benefited from his counsel and perspective on a variety of issues and at no time have I known him to give other than his very best for Bermuda.”

Mr Caines said Mr DeSilva brought “invaluable local knowledge and understanding to complex social issues that have confronted the Bermuda Police Service during his tenure”.

Governor John Rankin confirmed Mr DeSilva had informed of his intention to retire in June.

Mr Rankin said: Mr DeSilva has served the people of Bermuda with distinction for over 32 years as a member of the Bermuda Police Service, including as Commissioner for the past eight years.

“As Governor I have seen for myself the respect in which he is held both by his police colleagues and also by the wider community with whom he works.

“In line with international best practice, the recruitment of Mr DeSilva’s successor as Commissioner will be carried out by a process based on the principles of merit, fairness and openness.”

Michael Dunkley, the former premier and national security minister, extended his “best wishes and deep appreciation” to Mr DeSilva.

Mr Dunkley added: “Being the Commissioner of Police is a very difficult and demanding job.

“I recall clearly the day Commissioner DeSilva assumed the position when the community was rocked by violence.

“The responsibility never became easier, but through it all he conducted himself and led the BPS with professionalism and dedication.”

The former premier said that he had always found Mr DeSilva to be “well prepared, calm and in control of every situation”.

Mr Dunkley added: “Bermuda is losing a very competent and accomplished public servant who served without fear or favour.”

Jeff Baron, another former national security minister, said Mr DeSilva “made advancing justice and public safety for all of our families his top priority and worked to make Bermuda feel safer as well as being safer”.

Mr Baron added: “We will miss Mike’s leadership with the Emergency Measures Organisation and the BPS.

“My family and I wish him well and join the people of Bermuda in thanking him for his many years of service.”

Mr DeSilva joined the police in 1985, and succeeded George Jackson as commissioner in December 2009.

His appointment came during a surge in gang-related crime on the island, with three separate gun murders that same month.

Eighteen months later, he was awarded the Colonial Police Medal for meritorious service for his “strong achievements” in leading the force.

Mr DeSilva’s tenure also coincided with budget pressures and occasionally tense negotiations with the Bermuda Police Association.

Another period of strain for the force followed the clash between police and demonstrators blocking the gates to Parliament in December 2016, when pepper spray was used on protesters.

In January 2017, Mr DeSilva was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal for distinguished service, with Government House citing his “authority, sensitivity and skill”.

He was further commended for the drop in gang and gun crime under his watch.