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Police to get $2m budget boost to recruit more officers

Michael Weeks, the Minister of National Security (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

A funding boost of almost $2 million has been awarded to the Bermuda Police Service to help swell its ranks.

Michael Weeks, the Minister of National Security, told the House of Assembly today that $499,000 would be allocated immediately with the remainder to follow in 2023-24.

He said it would mean five people could be added to the parish constables team and an additional 15 officers would allow for increases in the number of serious crime investigators and officers in the firearms unit.

Mr Weeks told MPs: “The shadow of community violence is heavy over the island today as another family mourns the loss of young life.

“The sound of gunshots shattered the peace of a Paget neighbourhood in this season of goodwill and in the wake of this terrible incident of violence, we must again seek to comfort a family who today have more questions than answers.”

Keni Outerbridge, 20, was at a party with friends before he was gunned down at a property on Tribe Road No 5 at around 10.15pm on Tuesday.

He was found lying in the road suffering from multiple gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead after being taken to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.

Mr Weeks said today: “I am pleased to advise this honourable House and the public that as indicated by the Premier and Minister of Finance in July, Cabinet has approved almost $2 million in additional funding to the Bermuda Police Service.

“$499,000 will be allocated immediately in this fiscal year and a further $1.49 million will follow in the next fiscal year.

“This additional funding will allow the police to recruit 20 additional officers.”

The minister said: “I can confirm that through this additional funding, the police will provide an additional five officers dedicated to the parish officer function.

“These locally recruited officers will be embedded in and work with the community.

“Community officers provide a deterrent to further crime, improve public safety and further enhance public confidence.”

He added: “The balance of 15 officers will enable the service to increase the number of serious crime investigators as well as the number of authorised firearm officers.

“These are specialist areas of the service in which highly trained officers are developed over time and in which we need ample support to respond effectively to emergency calls and investigate crime properly leading to the gathering of evidence that will support prosecutions and bring justice to the victims of crime.”

Mr Weeks explained: “The reduced numbers of officers in the Bermuda Police Service is having a marked effect on the ability of the Bermuda Police Service to respond to crimes and bring persons who commit crimes to justice.”

He said: “While the Bermuda Police Service has aligned all available resources to frontline operational policing posts, an increase in the numbers of police officers is required to meet the extraordinary demand.

“Currently, the serious crimes unit has three sergeants and seven constables.

“This is grossly insufficient to meet the demand and means that active murder investigations quickly transition to ‘cold’ cases as new murders occur and need to be resourced.

“Further, attempted murder cases are deprioritised to maintain resources in cases where a death has occurred.”

The minister added that the recruitment meant the BPS would need to advertise both on the island and internationally.

He said: “Considering the immediate qualifications and experience required for some of the posts, overseas officers will be among those recruited.

“I have emphasised to the commissioner and I am confident in his full support of the Government’s position, that we must cultivate and train local officers concurrent with the engagement of any overseas talent.

“The sustainability of the service depends on an unwavering commitment to training those Bermudian police officers who are prepared to join these specialist areas.”

Mr Weeks highlighted that the funding came with "strict accountability“.

He said: “The people of Bermuda are investing in these services and this recruitment must be managed such that it has direct and positive impact on their safety and security.

“The Ministry of National Security will hold the Bermuda Police Service to account for the expenditure of these additional funds in keeping with our mandate contained in the 2020 General Election platform, ‘to bring lasting calm to Bermuda’s communities’.”

Mr Weeks added: “Various platforms have featured recent discussions about the challenges of recruitment in the uniformed services and in particular the Bermuda Police Service, Department of Corrections, Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service, the Royal Bermuda Regiment and the Department of Customs.

“It is, perhaps, a unique feature of Bermudian life that despite the current economic climate, the services struggle to attract suitable Bermudians.”

To read the minister’s statement in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”.

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Published December 10, 2022 at 7:43 am (Updated December 10, 2022 at 7:43 am)

Police to get $2m budget boost to recruit more officers

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