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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Cheri-Ann Smith Congratulation

Yesterday Tuesday 5th May 2009, I received some very important news about a friend in Bermuda. This news made me very proud to know that I had a hand in this young person professional career.

It was just over three years ago, so I remember it like it was only yesterday, when young Cherri-Anne Smith, fresh out of the Bermuda Police Training School was assigned to the team or watch as it is called in the Bermuda Police Service (BPS) where I was also assigned. At this stage of her police career the beautiful lass still not quite sure of herself but was eager to learn.

I was so blessed that I was afforded the privilege of mentoring her older sister in the same capacity about two years earlier. As most police officers fresh out of training school are; Cheri-Ann was eager to show me what she had learnt. She wanted to be on the streets enforced the law.

I could remember our very first meaningful assignment as a team. A vice president in a popular insurance company had violated a restraining order. Because I was entrusted with the responsibility of teaching this very impressionable young person the practicality of policing I had to be careful. I wanted to ensure I taught her how to do things the correct way, give her a sense of why it should be done in a particular way, but most of all not to personalize other people’s problems. It is common for individuals making a report very often expect you (the police officer) to react as if the offender had violated our (the investigating officer) rights, or commit an offence against us. Unfortunately too many officers are guilty of this.

I saw this opportunity to teach my new partner and later friend this valuable lesson; so we began our investigation. Our first mission was to prove that the offence actually happened, so we went in search of the proof (evidence) that the allegation was not a malicious one.

After a lengthy discussion with PC Smith about the matter which required our attention and I was sure that she understood what was required we commenced our investigation, Officer Sherri-Anne Smith went about gathering the evidence that was needed to verify that an offence was actually committed.

  • First: Cheri-Anne obtained an authentic document from the court which verified that a presiding jurist reviewed evidence and issued a temporary restraining order which is normal.

  • Second: she lends validity to the report. Before any police officer can take any meaningful action on behalf of a complainant who is not incapacitated or one that is not deemed incompetent to make a report, the investigating officer should first obtain a valid statement from the complainant. In this statement Officer Smith made a detail record of the allegation.

  • Then she went about obtaining evidence to collaborate the allegation that was made. It is important that this aspect is done in such cases; this is so because the presiding Jurist (whether it is a magistrate or a Judge) depends on the information of the police officer to determine the suspect guilt.
After Officer Smith had put in all of the ground work I noticed that she was visible upset. The young officer entered into the emotions of the crying victim who was for obvious reasons traumatized. She began to internalized the ladies problem which is common with many seasoned police officers who personalized the case.

This spurred in my partner an eagerness to have the suspect arrested and taken before the court. I could not forfeit this opportunity to teach this intelligent lass who possessed such an excitement to learn her job, one of the most valuable lesson in policing.

So I delayed the arrest of the suspect for a few hours and once again began to speak of the case and the two people involved, I use my experience and training as a counselor to guide the conversation to a place where my new partner came to her own conclusion as it regards to her feelings for the suspect and the victim. It did not take long before she began to exhibit the desired attitude to the incident we were dealing with.

Now it was time to make the arrest, we went over our approach using role play; then we went to the third floor executive office to make the arrest. I stood by my young partner as she affected the arrest. When the time was right I removed my hand cuff from my holster and passed it to my partner. After she outfitted the suspect with the handcuffs, we were ready to convey the suspect to the Hamilton Police Station.

When we were about to leave the suspect speak; looking at the young lady, who was only old enough to be his daughter he said, "this is very embarrassing to be escorted out of my office in hand cuffs, by the police, in the presence of my staff." Then he asked if he can be allowed to leave the office without the hand cuffs. My young partner looked at me expecting me as the senior officer to step in and make this decision. I then reassured her that what ever she decided was quite ok with me; she made a decision and we escorted the suspect out of the building; then to the Hamilton police station where he spend the weekend. The following Monday he was taken to the Hamilton Magistrate Court where he was found guilty of violating the order from the court.

So when I learnt that Cherri-Anne Smith will be acting Sergeant of Police supervision her peers most of whom will be her senior in service and experience I was elated and proud to know that at lease I had the pleasure of working with and being apart of her policing education.

Cheri-Anne is not one to shy away from challenges and I know that she is going to tackle this new responsibility with the tact and tenacity that she exhibited while we worked together. Congratulation Acting Police Sergeant (PS) Cheri-Anne Smith.