According to Bermuda's on-line
information resource published by the Royal Gazette
(Bermuda's national and international daily newspaper since 1828):
"The police service has 438 full time officers in
Bermuda's 21 square miles. At 21 officers per square mile, it has by more than
times the highest density anywhere in the world of police officers per square mile".
Within the last two years Government funding has included
the increase of Narcotics officers, from 23 to 29 officers to more effectively combat
Bermuda's most serious area of crime.
Take a read of the pages linked to this one to receive a
'feel' of what is behind the Island's chocolate-box facade.
I arrived in Bermuda 3rd March 1986. The day had
been manic, I was formerly a Metropolitan Police officer (London, England) and had that
morning been giving evidence in Bromley Magistrates Court in relation to car
thieves. It was a mad dash to the airport.
The induction course was relatively straight forward and
of the 15 new recruits my course results put me second.
I was posted to Hamilton police station, situated on
Parliament Street (just off Front Street). Hamilton is the Island's capital. I
was assigned to 'B' relief and worked in uniform 'street duties', generally on the 'beat'
(on foot patrol), subsequently passing a driving course.
To me it appeared 1986 was when crack cocaine began to
emerge on the Island. There were no-go areas (which surprised me for such a small
Island), places such as Court Street (the end away from Front Street), 'Middle Town', not
far from Court street and St Monica's Mission ('affectionately' known to the locals as
'42nd Street'). These areas had crack houses.
Narcotics were rife on the Island, prices high and the
punishment for possession reasonable severe. In addition to straightforward
possession of (suspected) narcotics offences, there was an extremely useful offence of
'possessing drug equipment' (paraphernalia).
It must be remembered, this is an Island, the residents
wanted to leave for weekend breaks, holidays. America was less than 300 miles away,
flights were relatively inexpensive and the US provided a means by which to escape the
claustrophobia of the Island for a short time.
To the visitor, the Island was a beautiful, tranquil
place, why would anyone want to leave. The answer is that, after a while, there is
only so much you can do and there was always more, just beyond the horizon. It was
natural and reasonable people would wish to escape, albeit only for brief periods.
The occupants of Bermuda were often referred to as '65,000
alcoholics clinging to a rock'. Slowly the 'rock' having the greatest bearing on the
occupants was to be cocaine (crack).
From March 1986 to early 1988 I was content to roam the
Hamilton area in uniform. I enjoyed the beaches and the social life but I had a
knack; I managed to find trouble. It was a little more than luck, often it simply
meant watching and waiting, but on most occasions (particularly night duty) it was a
combination of factors:
- being prepared to stop anything that moved
- visiting the no-go areas, or their perimeters
- being awake (night duty)
Not a lot was expected of an officer. Issue a few
traffic tickets (one of my annual reports actually commended me for the issue of tickets
for bald tyres - an offence seldom used / considered !!! That this would be picked
up on is a demonstration of just how little was expected and of the priorities), make the
odd arrest and attend calls as and when required was all that anyone asked. Often
the duties meant being stationed at Government House, three men per shift were required to
don a firearm and protect the occupants.
By concentrating on the narcotics scene I was able to
establish a reputation which was not to everyone's liking, inside and outside the
force. During a night duty, if posted driving, I had an expectation of myself; three
arrests from different incidents per night. This was regularly achieved.
I hasten to add that I was supported by many fellow
officers; Bermudan, West Indian and English, many of whom had or adopted a similar
My residence was situated at Prospect, in the police
headquarters complex, only 40 yards from the Narcotics office.
After a night duty it was becoming common to see cars
parked in the vicinity that belonged to those I had arrested during the preceding
shift. They were waiting to see an officer in the narcotics department for reasons
which are explained on the page within this site titled
On 21st April 1988, I wrote to the Commissioner of Police
requesting a transfer to the Narcotics department. I received the following reply:
CONSTABLE 217 P.B. SWIFT
FOR TRANSFER TO NARCOTICS
I am in receipt of your
application dated 21 April, 1988 for a transfer to Narcotics. As I told you recently
this will be considered as soon as the Force manpower situation improves.
I note that you
application contained several favourable comments by your Supervisors about your ability
and productivity as a Police Officer. (A copy will be placed on your Personal file).
I would like to congratulate you on your motivation and application as a police
It was this Officer (Clive Donald), who as Commissioner of
Police, was later to dispense with my services and about whom I was to submit a formal
During the next 6 months my arrest rate did not fall
off. I was eventually called to the Narcotics Detective Chief Inspector's office,
Prospect Bermuda. I was informed that I was to commence duties as a member of the
Narcotics street team, this was subject to the following conditions:
I no longer represented police officer's the subject of
I was to concentrate on arresting 'anything that moved';
Chief Inspector Ramsey wished to be the first officer in charge of the narcotics
department to achieve the 1,000 arrest figure for a year.
I commenced work in the department Tuesday 8th November
1998 and on Thursday 10th November 1998, I seized the largest amount of cocaine (with a
prisoner) that had been discovered that year. Whilst only 3 ounces, this was
sufficient to see the prisoner receive 6 years imprisonment. The arrest will be
fully documented in the diary pages.
Within a month the OIC Narcotics was endorsing my diary
"Good work. Good diary. Continue". It was like handing in
homework, so long as there was good content and this was presented in a neat fashion, one
could not help but achieve a 'gold star'.
Within a month of joining the department my workload was
such that 8 hours was simply not enough to conduct enquiries and complete documentation to
such a standard that conviction was inevitable. So began the curtailing of my
overtime, I therefore worked in my own time. I purchased my own tape recorder (there
was no such facility in the office) and eventually a word processor to assist with the
workload and ensure my confidential reports did not need to pass through the civilian
The diary will detail my activities with a lull when I
became assigned to the Asset Forfeiture Department. This was new legislation, law
that was cumbersome and impractical. A 'course' in Miami was almost pointless, an
unnecessary waste of time and money. In addition I spent 2 weeks in Jamaica as part
of a firearms 'training course' due to being a member of the Emergency Response Team
(Bermuda's firearms unit).
I applied to be returned to the Narcotics Department, or
uniform, on 19th March 1991, the AFT was mind numbing.
On 21st March 1990, I was summoned to Superintendent
Birmingham's office where I met Mr Ramsey. The conversation was brief, I was to be
reinstated in the Narcotics department with immediate effect. I was described (by Mr
Birmingham) as a loose cannon who he wished to use. He had a problem, drugs were a
major problem and his 'intelligence' section was poorly equipped, working in a "pig
At 4.45pm that same day the Narcotics Team were on standby
and the first major interception of cocaine and cannabis occurred that year.
1990 saw a more major seizures and I found myself involved
in most. It was a manic year, to quote Chief Inspector Bissell; it was the best year
the Narcotics department had ever seen". My overtime from the enquiries was
substantial, but necessary. I was informed (by Mr Ramsey) that I was earning the
same as an Assistant Commissioner.
The Miranda enquiry effectively put an end to my days in
the Narcotics department. I was transferred to uniform late August 1990, but
contrary to the COP's directions, Inspector Jackson of the Narcotics Department requested
my return on a day to day basis.
I left the Island 16th December 1990. My 5 year
contract was due to expire 3rd March 1991. I had so much leave owing that I was paid
to March 3rd and therefore completed my contract.