Government BPS Budget Cuts Put Officers at Risk

No funding for body-cams leaves police officers and public at risk.

TNN has been informed that management at the Bermuda Police Service is now allowing police officers to be issued tasers without having a bodycam.

The BPS we understand has a longstanding policy that in the interest of safety of both its officers and members of the public, officers are only allowed to carry a taser if they are wearing a bodycam.

However, due to a shortage of bodycams, a compromise has been reached which will see the policy being relaxed.

The bodycams are meant to be a safeguard for both officers and the public and are often relied upon to provide evidence to counter claims of use of undue force or less than professional behaviour by officers when effecting an arrest and particularly when they are left with no recourse but to activate their tasers when doing so.

Contacted about the situation, Inspector David Bhagwan, Chairman of the Bermuda Police Association which represents the interests of the island’s police officers, would not be drawn on the matter.

However when approached, Commissioner Darrin Simons revealed a lack of funding to be the cause of the problem.

According to Mr. Simons, “The Bermuda Police Service is committed to ensuring the safety and security of the community we serve. Our officers are equipped with Tasers, which are crucial in diffusing high-risk situations that may otherwise escalate into more severe confrontations.”

“In keeping with best practice, officers equipped with a Taser also carry a body camera. These cameras serve a dual purpose: enhancing transparency by providing unambiguous evidence of incidents, and promoting accountability.”

He added, “They have a moderating influence on both the public and police. Sometimes this eliminates the need to use the Taser. Unfortunately, due to battery malfunctions, our body cameras have been inoperable for the past few years.”

“Efforts over the last four years, to secure the necessary funding to purchase new equipment–approximately $400,000—have so far been unsuccessful. This has placed us in a difficult position, where officer safety and public safety could be compromised.”

TNN has reached out to the Minister of National Security to find out what the hold up is in providing the funding needed to purchase additional bodycams for the BPS and we’re awaiting a response.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Simons further explained, “Consequently, after thorough deliberation and consultation, and as a temporary measure, I have authorized officers to carry Tasers even if body cameras are not available, on the condition that each such case is documented and approved by a supervisor.”

“This decision was not taken lightly.”

Mr. Simon’s added, “Although not ideal, it is a balanced interim measure aimed at maintaining safety while we continue to actively seek solutions to the funding issue.”

“The Bermuda Police Service is fully committed to restoring and enhancing our transparency measures. We are exploring all avenues to replace body cameras. We understand the importance of this issue and are committed to resolving it while ensuring our practices continue to build public trust and confidence.”

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