Categorized | National News

Off Duty Officers Want Guns

As police officer Wilfred Atherley fights for his life in hospital after being ambushed and shot about the body over the weekend, members of the Police Staff Association (PSA) are calling of the government and the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) to allow them to carry their guns when off duty.

As it stands, police officers are mandated to turn in their weapons when they are off duty, but Executive Chairman of the PSA Sergeant Darrell Weir said this leaves off duty police officers outmatched on the streets.

“We are trained to carry these firearms, so there is no use for when we knock off, to turn the firearms in, because the same guy we lock up today, we will see him on the streets,” he said.

“He’s not going to ask us if we have our guns on us. He won’t say, ‘Hold on, let me allow you to go get your gun.’”

Police reports said last Saturday at 10:30 p.m. Officer Atherley was ambushed by a masked gunman in the Woods Alley area and shot six times as he visited a relative.

After undergoing surgery over the weekend, police said he is in hospital in stable condition.

Sergeant Weir said with today’s criminals becoming bolder and seemingly less fearless of those in authority, it is now time for the RBPF to fight fire with fire and equip police officers with the tools they need on and off the clock.

“We take all incidents where officers are being attacked and shot at seriously,” he added. “We are out there working tirelessly, night and day, trying to protect the citizens of this country and we can’t allow a few cowards to try and disrupt the harmony of this country.”

Just recently Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade announced that more than 3,000 guns and firearms were confiscated and weir said with these alarming figures off duty officers are outmatched on a daily basis.

Just four months ago another police officer was shot.

In that incident the on duty officer was carrying out duties at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) when a prisoner managed to disarm and shoot the officer in the face.

Earlier this year a police reservist was shot and killed outside the Superwash Laundromat on Prince Charles Drive.

There were some police shootings, though, that were fatal.

“The Bahamas has changed and it’s no secret, days are gone where people are resolving conflict in a peaceful manner,” Sgt. Weir added. “The order of the day now is guns.”

“People aren’t using rocks and throwing things, they are using guns. We can’t play the fool and say we don’t know what is going on. As a police officer people come to my house all the time where I live and ask me to intervene in situations. I can’t tell them to call 911, I am off duty, because I am a police officer and I’m being paid to do this, but I am not armed. I never know the nature of the situation I’m getting into when I’m off duty but I go anyway, unarmed. It’s about time we arm our off duty officers.”

According to reports, between 1962 and 2000 there were 17 police officers murdered in The Bahamas.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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