After Premier Andrew Fahie faced backlash about hiring a private security detail with public money last year, the task has been assigned to trained police officers.
“The force now has a competent close-protection capability and are covering security duties for the premier with no private security involvement,” Police Commissioner Michael Matthews wrote in an email response to Beacon queries on the matter.
Mr. Matthews said police officers had always been protecting the premier, but for a few months they worked in conjunction with a private security company.
Details about the previous security arrangements have trickled out slowly in recent months, often when the premier was directly asked to disclose information during House of Assembly sittings and media briefings.
In early May, the premier told the HOA during the budget debate that he received three death threats since taking up his position in February. He announced that security would be included in the budget, but he did not specify how much was allocated or whether the security would include police officers or private bodyguards.
At the time, he also said that there was not enough evidence to arrest any suspects for the threats, but that “circumstantial evidence” pointed toward “greedy persons in high places.”
Despite admitting to receiving messages from the public suggesting that the cost of bodyguards constituted a waste of public money, he insisted that the expense was necessary for his safety.
Later in May during another HOA sitting, he said the process of hiring private security had been “transparent”and he stressed that his life was at stake. However, he took a firm stance against disclosing the cost of the security detail, even at the urging of opposition members.
Mr. Fahie responded sharply to such requests, saying that once all the members of the HOA were willing to disclose details of any security measures they’ve taken, including security cameras in their homes, he would gladly do the same.
Though opposition members tried to press on, Speaker of the House Julian Willock deemed the topic exhausted.
In early November, during a discussion with the media at the Governor’s House, Governor Gus Jaspert said eight police officers had received “close-protection training” conducted by the Bermuda police. He did not, however, confirm at the time that these officers would eventually be protecting the premier.
A police press release around the same time stated that those officers were trained to the inter- national standard for close-protection training and that the skills they learned would help the force better serve high-ranking officials and the public at large.
No press release was issued to clarify the decision to hire private security months ago, nor was one issued to confirm that the police officers would provide close-protection training to the premier.