The operational control red herring

In my previous post I said that Government is playing politics with the police. Right on cue the Premier, after issuing a joint statement with the Governor, comes out with his own and re-politicises things.

Dr. Brown said: "While we've taken action to address the crime issue, we are not yet satisfied and are calling for more reforms. Unfortunately, despite being in government, we are hamstrung in our abilities to act. In spite of the fact that the Bermudian taxpayer pays for our police service, an unelected Governor has full control over operational policing.

"We have repeatedly called for reform in operational policing strategies. Specifically, we are calling for a greater police presence in known hot spots. We are calling for greater community policing to build trust between the people and the police. And, we are calling for international experts to be brought in to help train our police in best practices for reducing gang violence.

"The people of Bermuda expect results. They're going to hold the people they elected accountable. Bermudians are rightfully outraged by the recent violence and are demanding action. We are taking action. We are pleading with Government House to adopt new operational policing strategies. And, we are making the case that those who pay the operational policing bill should have a say over operational policing strategies. We are making the case at the Overseas Territories Consultative Committee while we are in London. We believe that policing in Bermuda must be reformed, not more of the same.

It is clear that the Premier is more interested in the argument than the issue.

As the UBP, the Governor, Larry Burchall and others have pointed out, the Governor doesn't have operational control of the Police; the Commissioner and his Assistants do

That is the way it is and should be.

So this appeal, this 'plea' for operation control, is either disingenuous or demonstrates a willful ignorance of good governance.

The conspiracy theorists claim Government wants operation control to block investigations of themselves. I don't share that view. As I said earlier, Dr. Brown likes the politics of this argument.

I'm convinced that the issue of the Police is simply a convenient way to:

a) breathe life into the dead independence issue by trying to fabricate antagonism towards the UK;
b) draw the UK/Governor into a more active governing role to create the impression that we are under a colonial thumb and that the elected Government is powerless;
c) deflect responsibility for the escalation in crime during the PLP's tenure

The simple truth is that Bermuda has been self-governing in every material respect for decades; and modern democracies have separations between operational policing and politicians.

No amount of political brinkmanship can change that.

There is an ongoing campaign by the Government to try and increase the day to day role of the UK as a means to emphasize colonialism. The hope being that they can start chipping into the huge opposition to independence, issue by issue.

Present our status as a colony as an impediment to managing the island, rather than a neutral factor or even an asset, and hope that over time you can change hearts and minds.

I don't see it happening. But what I do see is a lot of issues getting worse rapidly while Dr. Brown revels in the politics and neglects the policy.

In fact, if the Governor is to blame for not letting the Police get all "draconian" on criminals, then the PLP should be supporting him. After all that was the crux of their election campaign.

This will continue to worsen. Not because the Police need to be told how to do operational policing by politicians, but because the Government are obsessed with using the Police as a pawn in an outdated dogmatic political argument that the overwhelming number of Bermudians are on the other side of.

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