The Regiment and Police
As a British territory, Bermuda’s security is the domain of the United Kingdom in the event of serious civil disturbances, terrorism, or other external factors. When street riots erupted in 1977, for example, Britain jetted in 250 Royal Regiment of Fusiliers soldiers, who quickly put an end to the visible chaos. Similarly, Scotland Yard police officers are sometimes called upon to investigate serious crimes on the island.
In most circumstances, however, the island’s part-time army and police forces handle internal security issues. The 600-strong Bermuda Regiment holds a mostly ceremonial role, marching with its Band and Corps of Drums in “Beating the Retreat” displays and other traditionally British events, such as the Queen’s Birthday Parade, Remembrance Day, and Parliament Throne Speech appearances. With the governor acting as commander –in chief, the battalion has 27 full-time staff. An annual computer ballot selects Bermudian males aged 18 to 25 for three years of compulsory part-time service. Female service is voluntary. The regiment’s mandate is to help the island’s police force maintain internal security; its soldiers also carry out hurricane-relief work in Bermuda and storm-struck areas of the Caribbean. Established in 1965, the regiment brought an end to racial segregation of local forces by amalgamating a white rifle corps and a black militia. It is affiliated with Canada’s Lincoln & Welland Regiment, as well as several in the United Kingdom.
The Bermuda Police Service, established in 1879, today has nearly 500 officers, including plainclothes detectives, marine patrols, and narcotics and forensics teams. Headquartered in Prospect, Devonshire, ever since the British Army garrison withdrew in 1958, the police force has stations in Hamilton, Somerset, St. George’s, and the airport, as well as marine detachments in Hamilton and St. George’s.
Police on patrol carry truncheons, but not guns, though special tactical teams within the force are armed. Officers wear traditional British “Bobby” hats—to the amusement of North American visitors—as well as flat-capped versions, both emblazoned with the force’s silver crest. One of the island’s most photographed sights is the Front Street “Birdcage”—a blue-and-white-spoked kiosk in the center of the road at the Queen Street junction, where an officer is routinely posted to direct traffic, but also to pose for innumerable snapshots.
© Rosemary Jones from Moon Bermuda, 2nd Edition