Monday November 8, 2021

Social Justice Bermuda Statement on Police Misconduct

SJB is enraged, dismayed and disgusted to learn that a police officer violated their professional and moral obligations by sharing the CCTV footage of Jahtino Richardson-Martin’s final moments on social media. This is abhorrent for anyone to have done, and exponentially so when done by a police officer. It is impossible to have an effective police service if the public cannot trust the integrity, discretion and impartiality of the police service.

SJB notes that this is hardly the first instance of such abuse of power by police officers. Following the death of MP Shawn Crockwell in July 2017, a police officer leaked the news of Mr. Crockwell's death on social media before the next of kin had even been notified. In addition, photos of Mr. Crockwell’s personal effects, including documents and emails, were shared on social media. All of this occurred while these were in police possession. We understand that these incidents remain unaddressed by the police.

The trauma of finding out about the death of your loved one through rumor and hearsay or of reliving your loved one's death as his last moments circulate through social media cannot be understated. These gross violations display a wanton disregard of the deceased and  exacerbate the grief and anguish of those left behind at a time when they may already be facing the worst moments of their lives. They also erode the public's trust in the integrity and impartiality of the police service, which has far reaching consequences in the investigation and prosecution of crime, as well as for society as a whole. As noted by Lord Justice Maurice Kay, Vice President of the English Court of Appeal, in Neil Salter v The Chief Constable of Dorset [2012] "Although police officers do not have a fiduciary client relationship with individual members of the public or the public at large, they do carry out vital public functions in which it is imperative that the public have confidence in them. It is also obvious that the operational dishonesty or impropriety of a single officer tarnishes the reputation of his Force and undermines public confidence in it."

We believe that this violation reaches the level of gross misconduct and the police officer who leaked this CCTV footage is no longer qualified to be a police officer and should be relieved of their position. This behaviour violates at least three of the Standards of Professional Behaviour (see attached), as set forth in the Schedule to the Police (Conduct) Orders 2016:

-Standard 1 (Honesty and Integrity), as these actions clearly do not demonstrate integrity;

-Standard 7 (Confidentiality), as the video obviously was not disclosed in the proper course of police duties; and

-Standard 9 (Discreditable Conduct), as this breach undermines public confidence in the police service. 

Furthermore, the police service needs to undergo some serious reform. This was evident in its handling of the December 2nd 2016 protests, its handling of the Barbi Bishop case, its handling of Shawn Crockwell’s death, this case, and its intransigence in providing crime statistics – which reduces their transparency and accountability to the people.

SJB also notes that this revelation occurred on the same day that the Throne Speech was released, which included a commitment to “advance a new island-wide CCTV system, which will include newer features to assist the police in tackling road traffic offences and violent crime”. While there are many concerns about civil liberties and the effectiveness of CCTV as opposed to investments in community development, rehabilitation services and other policies, this and other behaviour begs the question of whether the police service can be trusted not to abuse its powers in relation to CCTV footage, sharing it on social media or otherwise using it for unlawful purposes.

Download Statement as a PDF

On behalf of Social Justice Bermuda, Monique Lister joined a Bernews News and Views (BNV) Panel Discussion on August 23, 2021 to discuss the proposed changes to the Permanent Resident's Certificate (PRC) process. If you missed the live discussion, you can catch the replay here!

Members of Social Justice Bermuda went live on Wednesday, June 2, 2021, at 8:00 pm for the Bernews News & Views series.

We recently marked our one year anniversary, and we will continue to be a voice and an ear.

Read our statement: Social Justice Bermuda One Year Anniversary

Social Justice Bermuda

Social Justice Bermuda (SJB) is a non-hierarchical collective of Bermudians who are inspired by the global Black Lives Matter Movement and the way that communities around the world are standing together to tackle and dismantle oppressive systems of injustice and racism. We are an advocacy group with no political affiliation. While some of our members have publicly identified themselves, others choose to contribute anonymously; there is no official leader of the group.

These are our values.

Click here to download as a PDF

Map: Honouring Bermuda National Heroes - Key Sites

All photos courtesy of Meredith Andrews Photography