Because of discussions I have been involved in with some of my ex-colleague and other members of my community on Facebook and other forums, I have been made aware that there is a deficit of knowledge as it relates to the responsibilities of and other key elements of the operation of the police service, force, department, etc., even among serving policing officers.
It is my desire, therefore, to use my knowledge and understanding of this field to fill this gap in this series entitled Police 101, of which this is my second submission.
I enlisted in the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force on 18th August 1994 and, in 2004, I was recruited by the Bermuda Police Service, where I took up a five-year contract, which ended prematurely. In 1994 and again in 2004, I took the oath and swore to uphold the laws of St Vincent and the Grenadines and later the laws of Bermuda, without fear and favour. This was an oath that I took seriously and at no point in my policing career have I ever compromised this oath.
In my initial and core training, which was done in St Vincent and the Grenadines, part of the training process of each officer, was the departmental internship. This is where each officer was dispatched to different department where they would do their internship. I did my internship at the Questelles Police Station, where I was responsible for solving a series of burglaries that has been taking place in that area. The burglaries had the staff at the Questelles Police Stations clueless as to who was responsible for the crimes that had home owners and family in that district on edge. As a result, the culprits were appended and a large amount of the items that were stolen in the burglaries were recovered.
That night when the prisoners and the police were taking their night’s rest, I woke up to allow the station orderly, who was also the jailer, the opportunity to use the washroom and refresh himself. I used that time to speak to the three teenagers who were involved in the felonies. I managed to convince the young men they were too intelligent for such things and that they are more than dirty thieves, I encouraged them, when this was resolved, to attend the ministry of education adult evening classes and elevate themselves.
As a result of my encouragement, I managed to persuade the three young men to offer three cautioned (defendant) statements providing the evidence needed to gain convictions on the key players in the series of burglaries.
The instructors at training had earmarked me for assignment in many so-called important departments, such as Criminal Investigation Department, the Intelligence Unit, training and even narcotics. This was so because I was always at the top of the class during my police training and my natural propensity for the job.
However, after training I was assigned to work at the transport division where I was supervised by police sergeant (PS) Adam Billingy. It must be noted here that the transport department is a part of the traffic branch and it was/is the department of the police force that was reserved for those whom the authorities felt or who have proven not to be competent enough to perform the duties and or responsibilities of actual policing or those who did not want to get involved in actual policing.
My placement at the transport department was administratively biased for two reasons:
1. The level of my intelligence: The level of my intelligence and knowledge of the law and other social and political issues was far above most of the people who managed the police force at the time. As was and still is common within the Vincentian community, people like me are shunned and suppressed.
2. I was from Kingstown, particularly Bottom Town, which was considered a high crime area and ghetto.
I once overheard PS Billingy, who knew the level of my intelligence, my potential, and my work ethic, speaking to the superintendent in charge of the traffic branch which the transport department fell under: “Sir, PC Palmer has been working with me for a few weeks now, and he is intelligent and a good worker. As a result, I called the training school and I inquired about PC Palmer. I was told that he was one of the top guys in training school and I have been interacting with him and he is far too intelligent to be assigned to transport. His attachment to the transport department is a waste of resources; I am of the opinion that he can be better utilized at CID.”
At the transportation department i had the opportunity to deal and interact with members of the diplomatic corps from around the world on a one and one basis. The level of professionalism I displayed in my duties, I soon became the go to guy for extremely important and sensitive assignments. The other top dog in this field was my senior, Lionel James, to whom I paid close attention.
Later I was transferred to the Barouallie Police Station, where I was under the direct supervision of Inspector (Insp.) Nicholas Dougan and Corporal (Cpl.) Noel Patterson.
One Sunday while we were short staffed, Cpl. Patterson, who was an extremely hard and dedicated officer, was working station officer and station orderly. I informed Cpl. Patterson that I would work station orderly, while he worked station officer, giving him more time to deal with the other one hundred and one things, which include the responsibilities of the sergeant, who was never at the station because of his affiliation with a particular powerful, high ranking senior police officer, to which he agreed.
Cpl. Noel Patterson was so impressed with the level and the quality of work I produced he had a discussion with Insp. Dougan the following day. Patterson claimed that I produced a higher standard of work than the other officers in the station. And he recommended that he (Insp. Dougan) stop PC Palmer from driving and allow him to do regular police work. The inspector discussed the matter with Superintendent Mazo Richards, who agreed that if I was interested in taking on additional work (no additional compensation), I should be allowed to do it. Then the rest was history.
I have investigated and taken many cases to court, even cases my supervisors insisted will be dismissed; however, I was convinced that I can take the matters to court and gain a conviction, which I did on all such occasions.
During my 14 years of policing, I had two cases I investigated dismissed in a court of law. One of those two cases was dismissed in St Vincent and the Grenadines and the other was dismissed in Bermuda.
When I was assigned to the Biabou Police Station, apart from my driving duties, I was responsible for the liquor licence inspections, the execution of warrants and process duty (warn witness for court). I also handled a caseload that was equivalent to the combined members of case staff at that station would dealt with (that was because the residents in this police district wanted me to investigate their complaints, and would put off making their reports until I was at work at the station or on patrol); yet I have never submitted a late case file.
On several occasions, the district superintendent would send the station managers (NCO) on vacation or other leave and leave me in charge of the station. I could remember once a particular superintendent visited the station and there were irregularities in the various registers; and in a fit of anger and frustration he was shouting to the top of his voice. He said to the team of non commissioned officers (NCOs) whose responsibility it was to manage the station, “When Constable Palmer is in charge of the station and I visit the station to review the records; I have never find these irregularities in the records and everyone who is to be arrested is always in custody, processed and ready for court. If it was up to me, I will transfer all of the NCOs from this station and let Constable Palmer run this station.”
My first year in Bermuda, saw me receiving, perfect attendance certificate, commendation for exceptional investigative skills for the apprehension and conviction of a notorious criminal.
Whilst in Bermuda, I was the first and probably the only police officer to take a drunk driver to court without medical evidence and gain a conviction, thanks to PS Gregory Grimes and PS Jermaine Tucker. The Bermuda Police Service has a six monthly evaluation system; I can confidently say I was the only police officer who was never evaluated because the men and women who supervised me thought they were inadequate to do so. As a matter of fact, one police sergeant said that I should be evaluating him. This attests to the vastness of my knowledge and the standard of professionalism I brought to this job.
Allan H. F. Palmer