Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle will retire from the police force this year after nearly 40 years of service.
His exit comes after nearly two years as the police chief.
The news has stirred speculation that Deputy Commissioner Clayton Fernander will succeed him at the end of his term. Though few expected his tenure to expire so soon after reassuring the public of an extended stay on the force, many anticipated his end was sooner since a new government was elected.
Here’s what you need to know:
Why is he retiring now?
Paul Rolle has been the Commissioner since 2020. He took on the role at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, helping to navigate the pandemic and enforce the country’s COVID-19 measures.
While addressing reporters outside of a charitable event hosted by the RBPF, Rolle was asked about his tenure and unable to navigate the conversation, he blurted, “I met with the team this morning and I could say to you that I do intend to make my exit from the police force at some point. I will have 40 years and so I’m looking down the 40-year mark and I’ll make a decision on that in due course.”
He is four years away from retirement age but has already spent 40 years on the police force. An extension can be granted if the new government, the Progressive Liberal Party, really wants to.
Though governments dismiss that the appointment of commissioners is non-political, Bahamian history has shown that each elected government appoints police chiefs who align with their party’s philosophy and hasten the removal of those who do not.
In December, three months after the new government was elected, Rolle backed by Prime Minister Philip Davis sought to dismiss claims he would be replaced and said he had no plans to leave the Force. “I’m 56 and the Police Act says you could work until you’re 60, and the Pension Act says 65.”
What is Paul Rolle’s relationship with the present government?
Rolle was appointed Commissioner by the Free National Movement after the retirement of Anthony Ferguson.
During his tenure, he has faced public criticism for his management of the COVID19 rules which many deemed restrictive and unfair. Some street vendors like the Coconut boys were hauled before the courts for violating COVID-19 measures. It cast a negative light on the force at a time when many Bahamians were struggling to cope financially.
In addition, the killing of 6 men at once after their release from police custody and he labelling them as idiots, has caused mounting criticism.
When a new government was elected in September, the Progressive Liberal Party brought back senior officers sent on early retirement by the FNM, one being Fernander who the PLP later appointed deputy to Rolle.
What does his retirement mean for crime?
Rolle’s announcement comes at a sensitive time for the Bahamas when crime is surging as the country reopens its economy. Multiple murders a day and brazen shootings are on the rise and calls for a new approach to policing are becoming louder.
Rolle came up through the ranks of the police force with little street experience and more administrative experience. The opposite is true for Fernander who once a victim of crime when he escaped a near death experience during a robbery. He has risen within the ranks with the knowledge and experience necessary to deal with gangs and violent crimes.
A mobile patrol officer was attacked on Monday afternoon as he struggled to detain a motorcyclist.
The disturbing video circulating social media shows the police officer and the young man in a struggle as motorists tow the traffic line.
In the tense video, police and civilian bikes are strewn along a highway as the officer and the young man struggle in another lane of the street, in what appears to be a traffic stop.
As traffic is backed up and passersby watch the scene unfold, the young man becomes belligerent as he pushes and shouts at the officer.
The officer then tries to detain the man as he grabs him by the jacket.
Seeing the scuffle, a plainclothes officer emerges from the traffic, runs up the lane and onto the scene while armed with a firearm.
He points the gun at the young man, demanding that he adhere to the request of the detaining officer.
The young man surrenders and is restrained on the ground.
The big picture
In recent times, social media have become bombarded with anti-police sentiments and police said they have seen an increase in assaults on officers attempting to execute their duties.
Back in April, Commissioner of Police Ashton Greenslade said most cases on Grand Bahama were during routine traffic stops.
Greenslade said the RBPF warned that violators will be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law.
“I want to address members of the public who seek to break the law. I warn you that my officers will not be complacent in the execution of their duties. Please be mindful that these officers are efficiently trained and will use necessary force to enforce the law,” he said.
The pastor accused of “spurious ” claims against Police Commissioner Paul Rolle was arraigned in the Magistrate’s Court today, charged with intentional libel.
Dressed in a coat suit, Pastor Julien Johnson was escorted to court by two police officers, without handcuffs.
The arraignment was scheduled for 2 pm.
Why it matters
Nearly two weeks ago, Johnson in a social media post, accused the police commissioner of sexual assault against female members of the police force. Johnson stated that it was revealed to him in ‘the spirit.’
Rolle responded in a statement that he “takes the attacks on his reputation seriously” and had since reported the matter to the Central Investigation Department.
Johnson who is known for making spurious claims on social media, as the word from the Lord admitted that he often speaks out of turn.
After the investigation was launched, Johnson admitted, “I don’t always get it right. I don’t always say what’s right. My mouth gets the best of me. Everybody has a weakness. And my mouth is mine.”
The controversial pastor who made serious allegations against Commissioner Paul Rolle admitted that he often speaks out of turn.
Pastor Julian Johnson of Sanctuary of Grace International Ministries met with fellow clergyman Prophet Lawrence Rolle, known as the ‘Singing Bishop, to discuss a recent social media video where Johnson accuses the police commissioner of sexual misconduct toward female officers that he said was revealed to him “in the spirit.”
Johnson said, “I don’t always get it right. I don’t always say what’s right. My mouth gets the best of me. Everybody has a weakness. And my mouth is mine.”
Why it matters
Johnson’s meeting with Prophet Rolle comes after the allegations made by Johnson went viral, and Commissioner Rolle reported the matter to the Central Investigation Department for investigations.
COP Rolle in a press statement said he “takes these attacks on his reputation seriously.”
The big picture
Johnson has described himself as a ‘prophet of God’ and often creates videos revealing ‘revelations from heaven.’
Last year May, Johnson caused quite a stir when he created a video accusing Prophet Rolle of being “effeminate.”
Prophet Rolle then extended an olive branch to Johnson passionately exclaiming, “I love you and I want to thank you so very much…whether it’s love words or hate words. No, it’s not an easy road. I love you brother. I forgive you, brother.”
After the release of DNA Leader Komolafe and other members of her party, since being arrested by police, Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle called a press conference on Monday afternoon, emphasizing that the questioning and arrest was not political.
Why it matters
Members of the party say they believe the arrest of its members, “came from higher up” suggesting that Prime Minister Hubert Minnis and National Security Minister Marvin Dames gave orders for their questioning and detention.
Their arrest caught the attention of FNM Former Deputy Leader Loretta Butler-Turner and PLP MP for Englerston Glenys Hanna-Martin, who assembled with members of the DNA on the outside of the Central Police Station to decry the detention. Both said they believe it was politically motivated.
The big picture
The DNA held a protest on March 3rd in Parliament Square and stood near the entrance of the House of Assembly, while it was in session, calling on Minnis to end the Emergency Order and resign.
However, the protest was deemed ‘unlawful’ since it was held without a permit from the police commissioner.
Why the arrest now?
Rolle said when the protest took place without the proper requirements, he told officers to speak to the group and he will handle the matter later, because he did not want to “create an unnecessary scene” at Parliament.
When asked if the police force is being used as a political tool by the government, Rolle said, “I do not take instructions from politicians. I answer to the constitution of the Bahamas.
“Nine people were interviewed and arrested. Nothing political about it. I don’t see colors, whether it’s red, yellow, or green. Everyone is treated the same. I believe my record on that is straightforward.”