Blakeney: police on mission to make arrest
A radio station owner and former Member of Parliament criticised police yesterday after he was involved in what he claimed was a “disrespectful” traffic stop last week.
Glenn Blakeney told listeners on Magic 102.7 that he was stopped by several police vehicles last Friday night as he returned home from an outing with his family.
Mr Blakeney said: “It was a very serious situation, with how we were treated.
“I don't care if I'm stopped by a police officer; It was overkill,” he explained. “I think they may have hoped, or thought, I was alone in the car. No one could convince me that if I was alone in that car. I would not have been arrested — either provoked or something.
“It appeared there was a mission. It was more than met the eye based on the body language, the demeanour, the lack of protocol with regard to asking the proper questions.”
Mr Blakeney wrote about the incident on social media and said it was “ironic” that he had discussed policing problems on air with former police sergeant Neville Darrell the same day he was stopped.
He said: “The discussion involved issues around the lack of effective community policing in Bermuda and other areas of the police service, that requires significant improvement.”
However, Stephen Corbishley, the Commissioner of Police, denied that Mr Blakeney had been targeted and defended the behaviour of the officers, based on bodycam footage.
He said: “I will defend the officers. They acted professionally.
“Our officers seek to be courteous and as part of our code of ethics and standards of professionalism at the BPS, we do not target people.
“We act on intelligence provided by the public. I look forward to resolving the matter with facts and not necessarily comments that might not be entirely accurate.”
Mr Blakeney said he and his family had gone to Double Dip in St David's for ice cream and were on their way back home, when they were stopped by police on North Shore Road, Pembroke, near Government Gate.
He said: “I pull over to the side and I look in the rear view mirror and see three bikes and two cars, lights flashing.
“Then another car comes around the front and parks diagonally, like they are preventing us to go any further.
“There were three police cars — one unmarked among them — and a total of eight police officers.”
He said one of the officer approached the car and told Mr Blakeney that they had received multiple reports that he was swerving across the road.
Mr Blakeney said: “The first thing he said was to turn off the engine. No good evening or hello. Nothing like that.
“He then said they had several calls that I had been swerving over the road and they had seen me as well, swerving.”
He said the officer asked him if he had been drinking, and then to step out of the vehicle
Mr Blakeney said his daughter also got out of the car and asked the officer if he knew who Mr Blakeney was.
He said the officer said he did not. Mr Blakeney said he was never asked for identification or to take a breath test.
He said: “This is just very suspicious. I'm boiling now, because I'm thinking all these things, but I didn't say them at the time.
“I didn't ask him why he didn't ask for ID, if he didn't know me.”
Mr Blakeney said he did not want to “throw police under the bus” because of the incident, and that he hoped it would be a “teaching moment”.
He added that a police spokesman had contacted him about Mr Corbishley appearing on today's edition of the radio show with him, but he turned down the suggestion and said they might be able to meet tomorrow.
Mr Blakeney said: “What I want him to do is what he is doing right now. Listening. What the Governor is doing now. Listening. What the Premier is doing now. Listening.”
Mr Corbishley said at a press conference yesterday that police stopped Mr Blakeney in response to an eight-minute call from a member of the public who was concerned about his driving.
He added that the number of officers involved in the stop was not evidence of targeting, but only a sign of how many officers were available to respond to the report.
Mr Corbishley said: “Officers will respond to incidents put out over the radio. If an officer hears something, quite often it will be the closest person who will attend, but other officers may also attend.
“Their time remaining there will be subject to calls elsewhere.
“One cannot insinuate based on the number of officers there that it was targeting. It's indicative of how many officers were available and their ability to attend a particular incident.”
He added that, given the dispute about the facts, the police have considered releasing the bodycam footage of the stop.
Mr Corbishley: “I think it has been demonstrated that we will hold officers to account — sadly, we have seen a number of officers held to account in the last few months — and even if a complaint is not made, we will refer it to our professional standards department.
“That shouldn't worry our officers, because it's about ensuring they are professional and the information I have is that on this occasion, they were.”