Scroll down the page for these particular stories:
-Awards and Honours for RBPF Officers
-The Crown and The Royal Bahamas Police Force
Occasionally, senior police officers are sent to England for advanced training and for studies in management, administration and police science. And outside most of our Bahamian police stations you can still find the traditional "blue lamp" bearing the word "POLICE", a tradition which began in Britain in 1861.
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A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF OUR HISTORY
In 1729 local magistrates were assisted by "constables" who put into force judicial orders. These court constables were not considered "police or peace" officers. Policing, in these early years, was often the responsibility of the British military posted to The Bahamas. Even this would not come close to our modern understanding of policing. However, by 1799 Bahamian constables were considered equal to British constables in the "Mother Country" and they were empowered to investigate criminal activity and place people before the courts for breaches of the law. Still, they were attached to magistrates and did not constitute a police force.
The Duke of Windsor, the former King Edward VIII, arrives in Nassau as governor in 1940.
An honour guard of Bahamas Police is seen in the photograph.
In 1838 slavery was finally abolished throughout the British Empire and the British West Indies, of which The Bahamas was part. With a growing population and changing social conditions crime increased and it became apparent that a police force was required to maintain the Queen's peace in the islands, particularly New Providence, where Nassau was located. At first a Night Guard was formed but this proved not to meet the needs of the community. On March 1, 1840 the Bahamas House of Assembly passed a Police Act which was signed into law by the British Governor and the Bahamas Police Force was officially established. The new police force had one Inspector-General and 16 officers.
Next March, in 2015, the Royal Bahamas Police Force will mark its 175th anniversary.
The Bahamas Police Force provided policing services to New Providence and eventually, after many years, posted members to the Out Islands. On the Out Islands some men offered themselves for service as peace officers and were called Local Constables or they were appointed Auxiliary Constables. They provided policing services when required, otherwise they continued in their main occupations. District Constables were appointed on an annual basis to assist in particular operations or police initiatives which remains the practice today.
As the population grew and the police force required change, amendments were made to the Police Act to ensure that the Bahamas Police Force could provide effective policing services to the colony. Eventually, the Inspector General title would change and finally become "Commissioner of Police" with a deputy commissioner and assistant commissioners, superintendents and inspectors, sergeants, corporals and constables.
Police Constable in the early 1900s in Nassau.
A constable on patrol on Bay Street in Nassau. The word "COP" comes from the expression
"Constable on Patrol". This photo dates to the late 1940s.
A 1950s photograph of a constable at Nassau's main dock.
In 1965 the Police Reserve was established to work with the regular officers in general police duties. Today, the police reserve, with over 1000 officers, forms an important arm of the Royal Bahamas Police Force with reserve officers working in all areas of the police service. Women were permitted to join the police service in 1965 and they too perform duties in all areas of policing standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. Over recent years many local and auxiliary constables, beach and traffic wardens were absorbed into the regular force or the reserve. The police service continues to appoint District Constables to perform particular responsibilities as defined by the Commissioner of Police. In 1966 the Queen conferred the title "Royal" upon the police force.
The Royal Bahamas Police Force has evolved since its inception in 1840 into a modern, efficient, greatly respected and highly professional law enforcement agency. The Royal Bahamas Police Force has won several international awards for its urban renewal/neighbourhood policing initiatives. Several senior officers have been members or remain members of international policing boards, committees and conferences.
Sentry Duty in 1968 at Government House on Mount Fitzwilliam in Nassau.
A vintage photograph of Nassau's Central Police Station.
Police constable in the iconic white bush jacket and pith helmet at Nassau's port in the 1950s..
Bishop Stanley B Pinder, JP, former local constable in Bimini(1955).
Stanley Pinder was Bimini's local constable in the 1950s. Seen here standing outside the Bimini Government Offices in 1955, Pinder would eventually join the Bimini Big Game Resort and Marina as the maitre d' of the hotel's restaurant. He also studied for the ministry. Today, he is The Reverend Bishop Stanley B Pinder, pastor of Mt Zion Missionary Baptist Church, a Justice of The Peace, a Marriage Officer and is also a former Chief Councillor of Bimini's District Council. The first to hold such a post. He remains a strong supporter of the police service in Bimini.
When Stanley Pinder left his position as a local constable he was replaced by Bimini's Lucius Weech, who later joined the regular force and had a distinguished policing career centred primarily in Grand Bahama. Weech, now retired, achieved the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police.
In Nassau, the Royal Bahamas Police mounts the guard at an official ceremony at Rawson Square near the House of Assembly..
This photograph was taken in the early 1970s. The Police continue to perform ceremonial duties at numerous royal and state occasions including the opening of parliament and the installation of a governor general.
Today, the Royal Bahamas Police is comprised of regular officers, reserve officers, local and district constables and civilian staff members that together number over three thousand.
HONOURING OUR POLICE OFFICERS
Members of The Royal Bahamas Police Force are honoured from time to time for exceptional achievement,remarkable merit, exemplary conduct and long service. The following medals and awards are available:
THE QUEEN'S POLICE MEDAL (QPM)
The Queen's Police Medal is awarded to police officers for distinguished service. Police officers who receive this medal have had their names recommended to The Queen by the Bahamas Government. The award is announced in either the Queen's New Year's Honours List or the June Birthday Honours List. This is a highly prized and most respected award for police officers and it is awarded throughout The Commonwealth. Current Commissioner Ellison Greenslade has been awarded this medal. Former commissioners of police Paul Farquharson and Reginald Ferguson have also been awarded this prestigious medal for distinguished service along with several other senior officers.
From time to time and in exceptional circumstances police officers are awarded a Commissioner's Commendation for outstanding merit or heroism. Commendations have also been awarded to officers by the Governor General, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of National Security.
THE BAHAMAS POLICE MEDAL FOR GALLANTRY
This medal, the ribbon is pictured above, was Instituted to recognise an outstanding feat of exceptional heroic valour in the face of great odds as a police officer.
MERITORIOUS SERVICE MEDAL
This medal. the ribbon is pictured, is given to many officers and it marks them as men and women who have performed their policing responsibilities in an exemplary manner. The medal is awarded, as its name implies, for remarkable merit and professional service. Police reserve officers have a similar medal recognising their service.
GOOD CONDUCT AND LONG SERVICE MEDAL
Recognising many years of stellar service to The Bahamas as a police officer, this medal, whose ribbon is pictured, is also awarded to recoginse "good conduct" over a lengthy career as a law enforcement professional. A similar medal for long and faithful service is available to officers in the reserve branch.
FAITHFUL SERVICE MEDAL FOR POLICE RESERVES
This medal for faithful service. whose ribbon is pictured, is awarded to police reserve officers who have completed sixteen years of faithful service.
THE ROYAL VICTORIAN ORDER AND ROYAL VICTORIAN MEDAL
These awards are given personally by The Queen on her own behalf to any persons who have rendered personal service to her or the monarchy in some manner. The Royal Victorian Order, which has several grades or levels, was awarded to former police commissioner B K Bonamy. He was named a Lieutenant of The Order (LVO). Assistant Commissioner Rebeun Smith received the Royal Victorian Medal (RVM) which recognised his assistance to The Queen during one of her visits to the country. These medals are not limited to police officers but to any person who serves the Queen. However, they are listed here because they were awarded to two senior police officers of the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
Police officers who have received a medal display them on their full dress uniforms for ceremonial occasions. When in regular uniform the officer wears only the ribbon of the medal(as displayed above).
Some officers, especially in years past, also received other medals from the Queen including the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal or Golden Jubilee Medal or have received awards in the Order of The British Empire. These awards are also worn with the awards listed above. One of the last holders of the Queen's Colonial Police Medal, Senior Assistant Commissioner Alan Gibson, retired in 2007 after nearly fifty years of policing services to The Bahamas.
THE CROWN AND THE ROYAL BAHAMAS POLICE FORCE
Queen Elizabeth II in Nassau on a visit to The Bahamas. Her first visit was in 1966 when The Bahamas was
still a British territory. On that visit she conferred the title "Royal" upon the police force.
The Bahamas flag prior to Independence in 1973
The Bahamas was a British territory for nearly 300 years. Queen Elizabeth is the great-great grand-daughter of Queen Victoria (died in 1901) the queen who signed the final Emancipation Act in 1838 which ended slavery in the British Empire. Queen Victoria also granted Nassau the status of a "city".
The Bahamas police received the title "Royal" from the Queen in February 1966. This cherished royal honour, shared with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and several other Commonwealth policing agencies, is a mark of the deep regard felt for the police officers of The Bahamas by Her Majesty. The Queen continues to honour Bahamian police officers with the conferral of "The Queen's Police Medal For Distinguished Service". She has also conferred the Royal Victorian Order on officers who rendered personal service to her during her visits to The Bahamas in recent years.
Her Excellency Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling DCMG
THE QUEEN IS HEAD OF STATE, THE GOVERNOR GENERAL IS HER REPRESENTATIVE AND THE ELECTED PRIME MINISTER IS HEAD OF GOVERNMENT.
The Bahamas is a constitutional monarchy and while political independence from the United Kingdom was achieved on July 10 1973, Queen Elizabeth II continues to constitutionally serve as our nation's ceremonial Head of State and Sovereign of The Bahamas as "Queen of The Bahamas", a legal title and Crown quite separate from that of the "Crown" of the United Kingdom. She is represented in The Bahamas by the Governor General. When in The Bahamas the Queen does not fly the British Royal Flag or Standard nor is "God Save The Queen" played or sung. These are symbols proper to her role as the Queen of The United Kingdom but not as the Queen of The Bahamas.
The Queen's Personal flag for use outside of the United Kingdom in those
realms, such as The Bahamas, which do not have a specific royal flag for Her Majesty's use.
The Governor General, appointed by the Queen, in her role as Queen of The Bahamas, is always a distinguished Bahamian, currently Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling. She acts as Head of State in the Queen's absence and fulfills her constitutional role in The Bahamas.
The Governor General therefore represents The Crown of The Bahamas in The Bahamas. It is a non-political role. He is the symbolic head of our national family and acts as Head of State, a role very different from Head of Government, which is the role of the elected prime minister. The Governor General is appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the prime minister and serves at Her Majesty's pleasure. The office of governor general is the country's highest office. In protocol the governor general out ranks everyone except for the Queen herself. Even a member of the Royal Family visiting The Bahamas ranks after the governor general as the GG is the constitutional representative of The Queen in The Bahamas.
The personal flag of the Governor General of The Bahamas, flown to indicate that
Her Majesty's representative is present.
In The Bahamas' system of government, the power to govern is vested in the Crown but is entrusted to the government to use on behalf of the people. The Crown reminds the government of the day that the source of the power to govern rests elsewhere and that it is only given to them for a limited duration. As an enduring institution, the Crown serves to safeguard Bahamian rights and freedoms.
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In a constitutional monarchy such as ours the Crown is a symbol of legal Authority, national sovereignty and national unity. The work of government is conducted in the Queen's name as is our legal and judicial systems. The Leader of the Opposition in the House of Assembly is called the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. Government land is called "crown land". Should a person's property be forfeit to the government it is said to be forfeit to the "crown". Government employees in certain departments and high ranking government officials must swear allegiance to the Queen before taking office which is really declaring their loyalty to what the Queen and the Crown represent - that is, The Bahamas itself and its citizens. The police and defence forces are "royal" and Defence Force vessels are styled HMBS - Her Majesty's Bahamian Ship. Internationally the Queen is also recognised as "Head of The Commonwealth", an association of 55 former British territories, sixteen of which have retained the Queen as their Head of State, while most others are now presidential republics. The republics recognise the Queen not as their Head of State but as the symbol of their free association in the Commonwealth and as such "Head of The Commonwealth".
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The Head of Government is the elected prime minister, currently the Right Hon Perry Christie, who together with his ministers, is responsible for the day to day governing of the country and is answerable to the elected House of Assembly. The Governor General always acts on the advice of the elected prime minister except in those areas or circumstances where the Constitution specifies otherwise.
Prime Minister Perry Christie, Head of Government
Since political independence in 1973 the British Government is now represented in The Bahamas by the British High Commissioner (ambassador). The British High Commissioner is a member of the diplomatic corps accredited to The Bahamas. Commonwealth countries do not exchange "ambassadors" but rather "high commissioners". However, a high commissioner is equal in rank to an ambassador. The British High Commissioner (ambassador) to The Bahamas is resident in Jamaica. The Bahamas High Commissioner (Ambassador) to the United Kingdom is currently Edward Bethel who resides in London.
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