A transparent and incorruptible police force is the bedrock of a country’s democracy and the foundation of its freedom, Minister of National Security the Hon. Tommy Turnquest told a group of senior police officials Monday.

Addressing a Royal Bahamas Police Force Anti-Corruption Seminar held at the Paul H. Farquharson Conference Centre, Mr. Turnquest told the divisional commanders that integrity and ethics are essential elements of a successful police force.

“It is absolutely important that, as we move forward, no one can point a finger at any police officer [or] any law enforcement officer, and that’s part of the whole process of getting our country back to a peaceful and safe one,” Mr. Turnquest said.

“Police Officers must not only be incorruptible, but must also be seen to be incorruptible. The Bahamian public sees you as the embodiment of the laws of The Bahamas; they see you as the keepers of the gates and as the moral protectors of a higher and a more noble calling,” Mr. Turnquest added.

Minister Turnquest said a society can only remain law abiding if law enforcement maintains its moral fibre. He encouraged the officers to always guard and uphold the Bahamian values of kindness, honesty and industry.

He said law enforcement officials hold “immense power” to keep the nation “safe and lawful” so that the communities can be places of moral development for the children of the country.

“I thought it was important for me to attend this seminar because I thought it was important for me, as Minister, to lend my support to it and to send the message that there is nothing absolutely more important,” Mr. Turnquest added.

Mr. Turnquest said the seminar – which will be held for two days in New Providence and two days in Freeport, Grand Bahama – was designed as a proactive measure and focuses on one of the tenets of the Commissioner’s Policy Statement for 2008 which speaks to the anti-corruption measures that are in place, and will be put in place to rid the Force of corruption wherever and whenever it is found.

“This seminar acts as a proactive step to providing the senior officers and managers of the Royal Bahamas Police Force with the necessary tools to deal with any matters of corruption if and when they do come across it,” Mr. Turnquest added.

Acting Commissioner of Police Reginald Ferguson told the divisional commanders and senior officers that his Policy Statement on corruption and integrity was “non-negotiable.”

“Therefore we, as an organization, must seek to minimize corruption in order that public confidence in the Force is heightened and to ensure that its integrity is maintained. This can only be achieved if all employees and those who hold formal positions, practice ethical leadership all of the time,” Mr. Ferguson said.

“You must have the courage to live out the core values of the Royal Bahamas Police Force – courage, loyalty and integrity – when there is pressure to compromise or even rationalize.

“There are many benefits to ethical leadership and they include building trust which brings credibility to both the organization and its employees,” Mr. Ferguson said. “This is especially important for the police force as we seek to build the relationship between the Force and the community.”

Mr. Ferguson said the public expects members of the Force to be held accountable for their actions “and rightly so.”

“Those who come to high office must come with clean hands,” Mr. Ferguson said. “In fact, I believe that when citizens have faith and trust in the Police, that they live up to their responsibility and report criminal activities. Indeed, I believe that the elevation of trust between the citizen and the police, contributes to crime prevention.”