Good day, everyone!
What a pleasure it is to be here with you.
Let me begin by acknowledging the presence of my esteemed colleagues, the Honourable Charles Washington Misick, Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), and Her Excellency the Acting Governor of Turks and Caicos, Anya Williams. I wish you both a very warm Bahamian welcome.
Today is truly an extraordinary day for the 229 new recruits of the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
To you, the new A, B, C, & D full-fledged recruits, and A, B, C, & D reserve squads, I say congratulations! It is a sincere honour to share this special moment with you.
I also wish to recognise the 18 officers from Turks and Caicos who are with us today. As neighbouring nations, The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos have a long history of trade, collaboration, and, more recently, joint security operations. The government of TCI is a vital partner of ours. We are always pleased to work alongside TCI to ensure our people’s shared safety and well-being. I look forward to a sustained partnership between The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos as we work to counter crime and create a more secure and prosperous region for all.
Today, my friends is a significant day. Today represents the accumulation of so many hours of hard work and intensive training. Today is the summit of a very steep slope, the peak you have sought for so long. From up here, the view is surely stunning. Enjoy it, my friends; you have earned it!
As we ready ourselves to celebrate fifty years as an independent nation, the theme “One Nation. Our Legacy. Our Future” is a fitting one for this very occasion.
Without law enforcement, it goes without saying we would not have a rule of law. We would not be able to guarantee the rights and freedoms we all enjoy as citizens. Our legacy and our future as a stable and prosperous country in the Caribbean might very well be placed in jeopardy without the work of the RBPF.
I say this to stress the importance of the charge you now carry on your shoulders. In your work, you will not only be creating safer communities. You will also be shaping the future of our country.
I encourage you to pursue this solemn remit with all your strength. I challenge you to remain unwavering in your quest for excellence. And I trust that you will be sensitive, steadfast, and sincere in the execution of your duties.
Recruits: today represents the first of many peaks. You will encounter countless others over the course of your career. But you will not be able to do it alone.
Lean on your fellow officers and let them lean on you. Work together, bound by a shared sense of duty and profound respect for national service, and you will scale more mountains than you can imagine.
As the saying goes, if you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together. So, go together, and go with all you’ve got.
Along the way, however, don’t forget to take in your surroundings, to share in the success of your fellow recruits, and to hold each other to the highest standard. Bring out the best in each other, and execute your charge with the integrity, loyalty, and courage that characterises the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
We miss out on so much joy when we don’t celebrate our achievements. So, savour the mountains you climb. Survey your surroundings, then determine where your resolve can take you next. And as you forge ahead, never forget that education and training can take you farther than you ever imagined.
Become a life-long learner, and you will find yourself better equipped to carry out your charge. Your faith and endurance may be tested. And as you progress in your career, long hours and unforeseen obstacles may wear away at you. But in those trying times, reflect on what made you choose to become a police officer. Remember your reason why, and never let it go.
As new recruits, you now join an organisation with an almost 200-year-long legacy. Since 1980, the RBPF has carried out its mandate of maintaining law and order, preserving the peace, preventing crime, apprehending offenders, and enforcing laws.
It is now up to you to accomplish these functions. With your new skills and training, you now form a part of the privileged few who work each day to create a better, safer Bahamas and TCI.
In the recent past, we have heard of violent break-ins, brutal murders, and savage assaults. The scourge of crime is certainly a concern for my administration, and it is one we are working to address to the best of our ability.
We have undertaken heavy recruiting over the past 18 months, which has paid dividends in an overall crime reduction of 30% from 2022 to 2023, and a 16% decrease in homicides over the same period. We have also secured 100 new trucks and 50 new motorcycles for the police force, expanded CCTV coverage in public parks, and introduced technology and equipment upgrades in the form of body cameras, electronic monitoring devices, drones and much more.
In the coming year, we will also be renovating multiple police stations and law enforcement facilities to better serve our service men and women.
In the ongoing fight against crime, however, we will need more than just new equipment. We will need each one of you to do your part. The single mother alone at night needs you. The young boy on the brink of joining a gang needs you. The visitors to our shores need you. We all need our police officers.
So, as you embark on a fruitful and fulfilling career as a public officer, I trust that you will carry out your duties with the utmost care and urgency.
I trust that you will give back to your country, which has already given so much to you. And I trust that wherever the future takes you, you will greet the days ahead with a proud and steadfast smile.
You are a police officer, and that capacity is no small honour!
Once again, I extend my sincerest congratulations to the graduating class of 2023. May the Lord bless you and keep you and continue to shine His face upon you.