Bermuda Police History

Bermuda Police History


From its humble beginnings over twelve decades ago, the Service has now grown into a small, sophisticated organization the match of any similar Force throughout the world.

The history of the Police Service since its establishment in 1879 has effectively been the history of Bermuda. Police officers have been involved in practically every major event affecting this Island. Like every other organization, the Service has enjoyed periods of high public esteem and major successes counter balanced with times of sustained criticism and unpopularity.

For your convenience we have broken down our history into three major sections. Please take the time to enjoy the information provided, however please note that the opinions expressed in this website are not necessarily the official views of the Bermuda Police, the Commissioner of Police or the Editor.

Reproduction in whole or part of any article or photograph appearing in this website is expressly forbidden without permission of the Police Service.

Historical Review by Sgt. Chris Wilcox, September 1999** This review was reproduced from the publication, 'Historical Review of the Bermuda Police Service 1879 - 1999.' Edited, designed and produced by Sgt. Alexander MacDonald.


Frequently Asked Historical Questions


When was Bermuda's first full time Police Force established? In August 1879 the Legislature passed The Police Establishment Act, 1879 and on October 1st that year, Bermuda's first full time Police Force came into being.

What was the 'green ticket'? During the 1950's Bermudians and visitors alike were expected to adhere to a strict dress code. Officers were directed to tactfully issue a notice called a 'green ticket' to any person whom they considered to be improperly dressed in public. For example if they felt that the length of a woman's skirt was too short, or if her shorts were, well - too short!

The actual wording read:
"May we respectfully suggest that your attire may prove to be embarrassing as there are certain regulations pertaining to propriety of dress that are being enforced in order to maintain Bermuda's position as a most attractive and pleasant holiday resort."

Who was the first Bermudian female Police officer? In 1961 the Police Women's Department was established under the command of W/Inspector Isabella Lee and W/Sergeant Rose Neville, both of whom were recruited from the United Kingdom. Three local women soon joined them, one of whom was Mrs. Jean Vickers (nee Mathis). She has the distinction of being the first Bermudian woman to join the Police Force.

When was the BELCO Riot? In February 1965 a riot erupted outside the premises of the Bermuda Electrical Light Company on Serpentine Road and the Police were ordered to restore the peace. As a result of their intervention, 17 Police officers were injured. One officer, P.C. Gerard Ian Davies, was so badly injured that he had to be invalided out of the Force. His father later presented a soccer trophy to the Bermuda Football Association to be played for annually; it was ironically named the 'Friendship Trophy'.

When was the first Police Gymkhana? At the end of the 1960's it was estimated that 20% of the Police Force was then involved, one way or another, in the voluntary promotion of youth activities. A good deal of that activity was channeled into launching the first ever Police pedal cycle gymkhana in 1969, an event which attracted over 400 school children.

When was the murder of Commissioner of Police George Duckett & Governor Sir Richard Sharples? On September 9th 1972, the Commissioner of Police, Mr. George Duckett, was shot dead outside his residence Bleak House. The then Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Leroy 'Nobby' Clark, immediately assumed charge of the Force and was later sworn in as the new Commissioner. Six months later, at midnight on March 10th 1973, the Governor, Sir Richard Sharples and his A.D.C. Captain Hugh Sayers, were also shot dead. They were about to take the Governor's dog (which was also killed) for a walk and had barely strolled fifty yards from the main entrance to Government House, before two men opened fire at close range.

Who was the first Bermudian Commissioner of Police? On February 28th 1981, Mr. Frederick Colborn "Penny" Bean made Police history when he became the first born Bermudian to rise all the way through the ranks from Constable to Commissioner. During his stewardship of the Force (1981 - 1989) he oversaw many dramatic advances, particularly in the areas of Police communications and computerization.

Who were the first female Police motorcycle officers? In April 1993, two women officers, Constables Yvonne Ricca and Cindy Eve-Spencer, made Police history when they became the first female officers to be trained and authorized to ride Police motorcycles.

When did the Bermuda Police Force change to the Bermuda Police Service? In 1995, the organization changed its name from the Bermuda Police Force to the Bermuda Police Service.

When was Crime Stoppers Bermuda established? On September 12th 1995, "Crime Stoppers Bermuda" came into existence under the chairmanship of Mr. McNeil Warner. This non-Police organization seeks to encourage members of the public to pass on information anonymously about crimes that they may have witnessed or know about. Once that information is supplied the caller is given a code number and asked to call back later to discover whether or not he or she is entitled to a monetary reward.