WEDNESDAY, DEC. 12: Armed police will join a huge deployment of officers across the island this coming Election Day.
And while police do not expect trouble, senior officers warned that they would act “swiftly and robustly” to tackle anyone who attempts to disrupt the voting process.
The vast operation will involve “every officer” plus Reserve Police, who will swing into action on Monday morning and work late into the night after all results have been announced.
Superintendent Martin Weekes told the Bermuda Sun that mobile armed patrols would be on duty across the island on Election Day to respond quickly if needed.
He added: “Historically we have not ever had much trouble at the polling stations. Our role is very much to support the Returning Officers and provide a highly visible presence at the polling station. We do not have any intelligence that suggests there will be any trouble at this election. The threat assessment still remains very low and there is nothing to indicate that anyone is planning to disrupt the election process in any way. But we will be prepared to act if we need to.”
Election Day etiquette is governed by the Parliamentary Election Act, which dictates how voters and candidates should behave.
Supt Weekes said: “If anyone breaks the laws contained in the Parliamentary Election Act we will take it very seriously We will act robustly and quickly.
“The legislation contains a number of offences which are specific to Election Day like approaching or intimidating voters, where people can stand and restricted areas and anyone breaking these laws can expect to be arrested. The public will be made aware of these laws by officers and the election officers at the polling stations, if they are not aware of them already.”
Officers will be dispatched to all 36 polling stations on Monday as the polls open.
Supt Weekes added: “Nearly all our work on Election Day will be controlling the traffic and security of the ballot. We are sensitive to the current climate in Bermuda and there will be increased patrols throughout the day and into the night after the polls close. It is a 24-hour operation and it is the biggest mobilization of police office that takes place on the island due to the geography and the area we must cover. We have pulled out all the stops and every officer will have a part to play regardless of rank or whether they normally have a desk job.
“There have been very few changes to the polling stations this time so we have experience to know which ones need more officers. Often the reason we need more people at one station is due to physical constraints of the area itself, like lack of parking.
“There is no neighbourhood in Bermuda where there is a polling station that gives us alarm because of the people living there.”