In April of 2004, when I went to Bermuda to become a part of the Bermuda Police Service, I went to that island not knowing what to expect and I did not know anyone. Back in St Vincent and the Grenadines, the land of my birth, I was a political upstart, even in my capacity as a police officer, and wrote articles that were published by the editor of the local newspapers. In those articles, I criticized everything and everyone who did not measure up to the standard I perceived they should meet. I was justifiably critical of politicians, magistrates and the system and the people who fouled up the system.
Although I do not have any official political affiliation, back then I was one of Ralph Gonsalves’ biggest critics, because I recognized in him what I considered a dishonesty that has no right to be in the parliament of St Vincent and the Grenadines. Needless to say, Gonsalves was happy to see my back. Gonsalves then had a few senior ranking friends in the Bermuda Police Service.
One of the things I discovered was that 70 percent of the people in supervisory positions in the Bermuda Police Service knew about me, even before I begin my stint in that institution. Many of them were encouraged to give me a hard time by Ralph E. Gonsalves’ high ranking colleagues. Sergeant of Police Mr Gregory MacArthur Grimes was one such person who was encouraged to so do.
Some of the people did what they could to suppress me. However, because I have an acute understanding of legal issues and policing, those people tried to manipulate my understanding of the AS400 (which was the computer programming system the Bermuda Police Service was using at the time). I knew my road to freedom was to master the AS400 and to learn the Bermuda Police Service policies.
During my second week on the street, a senior constable, who will remain nameless, led me wrong in updating the computer system, after which she went and brought the errors to the acting sergeant’s attention, who burst my belly (a police term to be chewed out publicly). Something you must know about this acting police sergeant was that person sat and failed his sergeant’s promotions exams no less than seven times. And his desire to be a PS had driven him to a level of desperation, which gave him a willingness that led him to do almost anything to be promoted to the rank of sergeant. Therefore he was willing to do the unethical and dishonest bidding of the high ranking Vincentian police officers, the friends of Ralph E. Gonsalves, who had promised to ensure that he was promoted.
My first encounter with Mr Grimes came on my first week on the streets of Bermuda. Although I was not working directly under M. Grimes’ supervision, Mr Grimes was the station officer when I managed to apprehend one of the biggest and most wanted criminals in Bermuda. My partner, a young police with about two years’ experience at the time, updated the computer and took credit for the arrest even though she did not take the time to actually find out from me the details of my discovery and arrest of the suspect.
Mr Grimes’ experiences led to conclude that something was totally wrong with the information he was reading about the apprehension of the wanted and supposedly armed and dangerous criminal. So he called me and he asked me if I was there when the criminal was apprehended. I told him yes, and then he asked me to tell him what happened. I told him what happened. As a result of the information I provided to the experience and knowledgeable sergeant, he called the young constable and the instruction was given to correct the updates to reflect what actually happened. Needless to say, that young constable and I were awarded a commendation for investigation.
From my observation, I quickly learned that Mr Grimes was brutally honest man, and his dealing was unquestionable. But very important, he had a teacher’s personality. He took pleasure in guiding and being of help where he could. It was Mr Grimes’ knowledge I depended on to learn the AS400. I would bombard him with questions, and there was never an instance where Mr Grimes demonstrated a hint of reluctance to share his knowledge with me.
It was not too long before I knew more about the AS400 than most police officers who had been using that system for years. I would bounce ideas off of Mr Grimes, and any troublesome policing problem I was confronted with I would look to the wisdom and knowledge of Mr Grimes for solution. Thanks to Mr Gregory MacArthur Grimes’ help and willingness to teach, I was able to accomplish two firsts in the Bermuda Police Service.
I will also dare to say that sergeant of police Gregory Grimes can be credited for mentoring and teaching the entire senior ranks of the Bermuda Police Service. He was responsible for the preparation of more than half of the non commissioned officers for the sergeants’ exams, and for the inspectors’ exams. Yet Mr Grimes, who had the ability to sit and pass the inspector’s exam he was instrumental in preparing so many for, did not have a desire to become an inspector. His desire was to be a sergeant of police and he happily showed up to work each day, enthusiastic and ready to execute his duties to the best of his ability; taking instructions from men and women who as little as a year before were under his supervision.
PS Grimes ensured that each person who entered any police station for which he was responsible, be it a fellow officer showing up for duty, a member of the civilian community who was making a report or just seeking information or a prisoner who was wanted for murder, was treated with the basic human dignity that should be awarded to anyone, that they were treated fairly based on the law of Bermuda and the policy of the Bermuda Police Service. I will declare that Police Sergeant Gregory MacArthur Grimes represented a scarce excellence in policing, fairness and justice. Rest in peace, Mr Grimes.
On September 9, 2010, I wrote an article titled: Unexplained illness and death: A serious problem within the Bermuda Police Service. This was one of several articles I wrote trying to get the attention of the Bermuda authorities to look into the cause of so much unexplained sudden death and unexplained terminal illnesses that is common among past and serving members of the Bermuda Police Service.
In my effort to get some help for my ex-colleagues, I even wrote to the premier at the time, Dr Ewart Brown, who replied to me informing me that his office would look into the matter. Yet nothing has been done. I left Bermuda some ten years ago now, and it is sad to say that the Bermuda Police Service still has a mortality rate that seems to be on a par with the world of professional wrestling. The only difference is professional wrestlers abuse their bodies in their performance, they take lots of high risks and they perform while they are hurt, compounding their injuries. They are also steeped in drug, alcohol, and steroid use, misuse and abuse.
Although Bermuda is still a very safe place for police officers to practice their profession, the danger to the Bermuda Service personnel and ex-service personnel has nothing to do with the dangers that are associated with their profession itself, but is a danger that is lurking in unknown places that causes currently serving police officers and ex-servicemen to suddenly become critically ill and die. Today this distinguished gentleman, Mr Gregory MacArthur Grimes, is now a part of the statistics. Like Goppy Young, Paul Marsden and PC Thomas and many others, Mr Grimes had a medical emergency that say him dead several hours later.
I am taking this opportunity to make a renewed call to the governor of Bermuda, who has direct responsibility for the Police Service, the elected government of Bermuda, whose constituents the police personnel are, and the Bermuda Police Service who has immediate responsibility for each officer, to do all in your power to ensure the needed resources are expended to look into this never dying issue. This problem of untimely death of past and currently serving members of the Bermuda Police Service has been there long before I went to Bermuda and it was an issue everyone was aware of but no one spoke of it, and it has remained an ignored issue ten years after I left. The question is who will be next victim, you as well as I know it is only a matter of time.
I take this opportunity to remember batch mate Paul Marsden, PS Guppy Young, Constable Thomas, and now Mr Gregory MacArthur Grimes and the others who have walked this tragic and forbidden path of untimely death. All of whom suffered a sudden and tragic illness that led to their death.
Allan H. F. Palmer