Calls for Bermudian Commissioner of Police
Former national security minister Jeff Baron has led calls for a Bermudian to be appointed as the next Commissioner of Police.
Wayne Perinchief, also a former government minister, echoed the sentiment urging the Governor to make a local appointment. While former commissioner Jonathan Smith said it was “important but not essential” that a Bermudian took the reins.
The calls came after commissioner Michael DeSilva announced on Tuesday that he would step down from the position in June after more than eight years in the top job.
“First things first, Bermuda's next commissioner should be Bermudian — without question,” Mr Baron said. “Contextual, emotional and cultural intelligence is critical for leaders in public safety.
“I know this first-hand as the former minister and junior minister from 2012-2017. Bermudians can lead. Embrace this fact and stop looking to abrogate leadership to foreign specialists.
“As Commissioner, he or she should have two central goals: making Bermuda safer and public safety reform. Falling crime rates from 2012-2017 are very encouraging but do not mean that concerns about antisocial behaviour, or the state of our police service, can be brushed aside.
“Too often the BPS gets scapegoated for broader failures of our society and our criminal justice system. From substandard education, shortage of jobs, mismanagement of public funds and ginned-up political theatre we wrongly look at the BPS to contain and control these complex social problems.
“Too many of our sons reach for guns instead of textbooks, that's our reality. Our new commissioner must stay focused to their strategic aims while appreciating, apolitically, our contemporary social problems here in Bermuda.”
The present hierarchy of the BPS senior management team sees Deputy Commissioner Paul Wright under Mr DeSilva, followed by Assistant Commissioners Antoine Daniels and Martin Weeks. Below the Assistant Commissioner rank are three Superintendents James Howard, Sean Field-Lament and Darrin Simons.
It is understood the Commissioner of Police position will be advertised nationally and internationally.
Mr DeSilva has chosen June 15 as his last day in the job so he can complete his term as president of the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police and fulfil his last official duties at the Queen's Birthday Parade.
Asked how important it was that the next Commissioner was Bermudian Mr Smith “It is important, but not essential. Four of the last seven Commissioners have been foreign-born; two of them non-Bermudian. No Governor to date has ever restricted himself in the selection.”
He added: “Michael will know that he is one of only five Bermudians alive who have had the honour, and it is an honour, to have occupied the Commissioner post.
“Nearly twenty years ago, the selection process became more rigorous following changes implemented by the Government and the Governor. The ethos and thinking remain the same.
“The next Commissioner will require a track record of ethics, integrity, leadership capability, an ability to think laterally and deliver strategically and operationally. The post is incredibly complex and among senior law enforcement positions, unique.
“The tripartite framework of the Commissioner — Minister — Governor requires a clear understanding of the Constitutional and legislated lines, and the Commissioner needs to be acutely aware of navigating that framework ethically, legally and with discipline. All that, and an ability to instil teamwork and a mission-focus are of paramount importance.”
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. In January 2017, Mr DeSilva was awarded the Queen's Police Medal for distinguished service.
Former Progressive Labour Party National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief told The Royal Gazette: “It should be a locally appointed commissioner; I would not bring in someone from abroad.
“But I would also advocate bringing in a team of experienced officers from the UK to help develop a strategic plan for the next five years to help the new commissioner.
“June is a very short window, I do not believe it would be advantageous to select from outside Bermuda. It would take a while from them to get their feet on the ground and understand the lay of the land. “At least three people have been identified who are already serving in the police force and I don't see the need to go outside that. I'm not making any distinction between born Bermudians; these guys have been here long enough have been thoroughly Bermudianised.”