HALL OF FAME
Chief Inspector Ernest “Ernie” Moniz
Chances are the majority of police officers who remember the Late Chief Inspector Ernest “Ernie” Moniz will be those who served with him, or under him, in Operations Traffic Department where he first worked as a P.C. in 1961 then later as Sergeant, Inspector, and finally as Chief Inspector OIC Operations Division.
Of all the police officers who have served in the Bermuda Police Force, as it was called when Ernie first joined in 1953, Ernie was one of those who left you in no doubt that he was highly efficient, highly motivated and that he gave his heart and soul to the job of being a police officer. He was a policeman’s policeman through and through!
The above photo was taken in front of the Dockyard Terraces (Camber Terraces) in 1947, prior to Inspector Bromby returning to England. Uniform of the day at that time being Royal Marine winter blues. Summer uniform was Royal Marine khaki – long trousers.
A caption for the photo also provides this information about their Regular or Fixed Beats:-
“Main Gate, South Gate, North Yard, South Yard, all roads and area between the Gates and Watford Bridge, Watford Bridge, Daniel’s Head and nights and weekends the Keep Yard (now Maritime Museum}.”
Whilst serving in the Dockyard Police, Ernie on his own initiative took an extensive course with the Institute of Applied Science in Chicago, Illinois, which included fingerprinting and examining scenes of crimes, and he was awarded a Diploma in Scientific Crime Prevention on 29th April 1948.
Ernie served for three years at Royal Naval Dockyard and he no doubt realized that the writing was on the wall regarding its impending closure when he resigned in July 1949 at which time Superintendent Charles Underwood provided him with a reference to say that during his 3 years service he “proved to be clean and sober in his habits, and in all other respects keen and efficient in his work as Police Constable.” There’s no question that is the same Ernest Moniz who later served with distinction in the Bermuda Police!
Upon leaving the Dockyard Police, Ernie decided to go abroad and went off to Canada where he applied for, and was accepted in the elite Provost Corps of the Canadian Army Police. He attended Camp Borden in Ontario for Basic Training, and served 4 years in the Provost Corps, much of which he spent in Germany with the 27th Canadian Infantry Brigade created in 1951 for service in West Germany. While serving in the Provost Corps, Ernie attended an Instructors Course in November 1951, qualified as a Special Investigator in February 1952, and also successfully completed the Senior NCO’s Qualifying Course in October 1952.
It was while on leave in England that he first met a young lady by the name of Blanche who was to become the love of his life. Blanche was then serving in the Women’s Royal Army Corps (WRAC) stationed at the WRAC Base at Bicester in Oxfordshire, and the two met for the first time under the statue of Queen Victoria in front of Buckingham Palace. Young Corporal Moniz was at that time still stationed in Germany, and he was on a visit to London with several of his friends prior to heading back to Canada for de-mob.
Blanche and two fellow WRAC colleagues, all in uniform, were on a visit to London from their base in Oxfordshire. One of Ernie’s colleagues had a camera and was taking photos of Queen Victoria – and the young uniformed ladies! Ernie, who was in his uniform, approached Blanche and asked her where he could send the photos. The two exchanged contact details and they struck up a friendship through correspondence.
After their first meeting Ernie travelled back to Canada for his de-mob then returned to England and the two were engaged on 14th February 1953, and married on May 13th at the Registrar’s office in Stockport in Cheshire, which was Blanche’s home town.
A few weeks later Ernest travelled down to London again to see the Coronation of young Queen Elizabeth II on 2nd June 1953. At that time he was undecided about his future career but he wanted to come back to Bermuda to introduce his new bride to his family. The two sailed by ship to New York where they visited Ernie’s sister Josephine in New Jersey, then they flew over to Bermuda and decided to stay here.
Blanche recalls Ernie getting a job a job at Freezer Fresh, which lasted for all of four hours before he decided it wasn’t for him. He eventually decided to join the Police Force which he did on 17th September 1953.
Some of our police records are not the most accurate, and Blanche is sure that Ernie’s first posting was to Western Division at Somerset Police Station under Sergeant Gill. She remembers ironing Ernie’s khaki shorts and shirts which didn’t fit well! It appears that Ernie had some difficulties settling back in Bermuda, and after a couple of years he decided to resign from the Force and he then headed to Canada looking for suitable employment while Blanche returned to England and stayed with her mother.
After spending some time in Canada, Ernie went off to New Zealand with a view to settling there with the intention of asking Blanche to join him, but it wasn't long before he decided to return to Bermuda where he re-joined the Police Force - and from then on he never looked back.
Ernie was again posted to Somerset for several years, but after another P.C. (who shall remain nameless) was suddenly transferred from Hamilton to Western Division for “misbehaviour”, Ernie was transferred to Central Division and from there he moved to Operations (Traffic) in June 1961 which is where he spent most of the rest of his police career.
He was promoted to Sergeant on the 11th October 1962 and several months later Ernie was posted as a Watch Sergeant in Central Division. He returned to Operations early in 1963 as a Traffic Sergeant, and in 1970 he became OIC of Motor Cycle Squad and was promoted to Inspector in July 1970.
Always smart and immaculately dressed, Inspector Moniz was appointed in 1974 by Commissioner “Nobby” Clark to serve as Honorary Aide-de-Campe to His Excellency the Governor, Sir Edwin Leather. By all accounts he did an excellent job as ADC.
After a spell as Inspector OIC Western Division, Ernie was promoted to Chief Inspector and appointed as OIC Central Division in September 1976 where he spent two years before taking over as OIC of Operations (Traffic) .
We recently spoke with retired Chief Inspector Derek Jenkinson who worked under Ernie and had the highest regard for him. Derek said that as OIC Operations, Ernie ran a tight ship and was always a stickler for protocol. At that time, each Watch had three cars and two motor cycles which were strictly for the use of their Watch. Drivers and riders were expected to wash down their cars at the end of their tour of duty, and on Sunday mornings they were expected to thoroughly wash and polish their vehicles - from top to bottom.
Derek recalls that as OIC Operations, Ernie would often attend the Watch parade at the start of a shift to make sure everyone was turned out properly. Derek commented, “Ernie would never ask you to do anything that he wouldn’t do himself. We used to have some drains under the road outside the Traffic compound that would get blocked from time to time, and Ernie would get out there and unblock them himself if necessary. He would always insist on reading and reviewing all reports submitted by Watch members to make sure that any potential issues would be nipped in the bud and resolved before they left Traffic."
In October 1972, while still serving as OIC Operations, Ernie was awarded the Colonial Police Medal for Long Service and Good Conduct, and the CPM for Meritorious Service. In October 1980 he was awarded the Clasp for his Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.
Having gained a reputation as an excellent Honorary Aide-de-Campe to Governor Sir Edwin Leather, Chief Inspector Moniz received a letter in February 1979 from Premier J. David Gibbons thanking him for accepting the Premier’s invitation to act as ADC for official functions held at the recently opened Camden House in the Botanical Gardens as the Premiers official residence.
Back Row (l-r) Anthony Taylor, Roger Brydon, Hiram Edwards,
Chief Inspector Moniz remained as OIC Operations for the rest of career until his retirement in April 1981. I believe it’s fair to say that throughout his service in the Bermuda Police, and especially during his time as the Officer-in-Charge of Operations, he set and maintained the highest standards for himself and all those who served under him. He was a policeman’s policeman!
Following his retirement Ernie worked for a few years at the Bank of Butterfield in security, but Blanche says they started to enjoy travelling and going on cruises. “We took cruises to the Caribbean, to South America, visiting Brazil and Argentina, we did the Alaska cruise, and also visited European countries and went as far afield as Australia and New Zealand.”
Sadly, Ernie had health issues during the last couple of years which put paid to their travels, and he died at the age of 73 in February 2001.
When asked whether Ernest enjoyed his many years as a policeman, Blanche said, “The Police Force was his life, for practically all of his life. He never really got involved with other activities or social clubs. He was always proud to be a police officer.”
EDITORS NOTE - This article has been written with the assistance of Ernie’s wife, Mrs Blanche Moniz, who is now 91 years of age. Fortunately, Blanche had a lovely collection of photos, and documents, including some official photos which I had never seen before. She also had a good memory despite thinking that she didn’t, and it was a pleasure completing this well deserved tribute to Chief Inspector Ernest "Ernie" Moniz for our Hall of Fame.
Charlie Mooney comments:- Chief Inspector Ernie Moniz was a definite ‘Hall of Famer’ !!! If nominations and votes had to be cast for entry, as in some sports, he would have been accepted years ago. He was that good.
There was a story that did the rounds when he was OIC Central that a certain PC Colin G., put in a request for a transfer to Traffic. Ernie called him up to his office, reviewed his file, and stated “I’m sorry, you’re not good enough for Traffic, I’ll recommend you for C.I.D.”!
In 1976 I was placed on a Standard Driving Course. Ernie was one of the Driving Examiners. On my Final Drive I was driving East on South Road, Paget, outside Paget Pharmacy, approaching the pedestrian crossing at White Sands Road, when Ernie pulled the handbrake and the car yawed across the centre line. I was “on commentary“ at the time and had mentioned the two pedestrians on the sidewalk who did not appear to know where they were going. Ernie had decided that they were about to cross the road and I had to ‘give way’ to them.
We stopped at Botanical Gardens to change drivers, where he apologized to me as he did not think the handbrake would have such an effect, and he allowed me outside for a smoke. He also gave me a pass which allowed me to transfer to ‘B’ Watch Traffic shortly after.
In Traffic, in those days, the car had to be washed down after every shift. We had regular partners for 12 to 18 months every day and the same car. The car was shared with two officers on another shift, so we were always fussy about looking after it. I was in 03864, a Morris Marina, for many years. On the Sunday morning of day shift, the car had to be cleaned, inside and out, and polished. That’s what District patrols were for, to cover for Traffic, contrary to a certain Sergeant’s, at that time in the Western Division, opinion! CLICK HERE for an excellent article written by Charlie titled "B" Watch & The Man at Darrell's Wharf
When new cars were purchased they came fitted with AM/FM radios. These were taken out as the officers would be listening to this radio and not the Police radio. Eventually this practice stopped as we showed we could do both.
Ernie was a clean and tidy freak. The Operations yard, garages, and offices all had to be clean. He used to come in to the parade room, when the day shift was knocking off, and ask for two volunteers to come in the next day in civvies to clean the yard. We could not volunteer quick enough as we knew, after he inspected our work, he would send us home at one or two o’clock instead of four. It got to the stage where he would just ask for volunteers without defining the jobs. He still got loads of applicants. Sometimes it involved cleaning and polishing the Landrovers and the Kombis, as well as cleaning around outside the Operations fence.
1st August 2021
Mike Burke comments:- Terrific article, Roger, which we read the other day after seeing the Facebook posting. We’re pleased to hear that Blanche is still going strong at 91 and so ‘on the ball’...a lovely lady and a pleasure to have known her and also to learn more about her background and whirlwind romance with Ernie.
Ernie Moniz was a straight-down-the-line, extremely efficient Inspector (later CI). He didn’t suffer fools gladly but was always a kind, understanding man and I enjoyed the years I spent with him at Traffic, and also the visits I had with him and Blanche at their home on my two return trips to Bermuda.
3rd August 2021
Sgt Dave Cook
Dave Cook comments:- As promised, some observations & experiences I had with Chief Inspector Ernie Moniz, first in Central Division where he was OIC, then later on in Operations. To the best of my memory mid to late seventies, I was attached to Operations at the time he retired.
We all know how well dressed & smartly turned out he always was. However one Saturday morning while at the old police station (where Govt Admin building is now) he turned up in painter's clothing & long staffed brush, went into the cells & commenced white washing them, moving prisoners as he went along. Didn’t complain just got on with it.
My time working with him as my OIC you always knew where you stood with him.
As a testament to how strong he was relates to another incident which I didn’t witness but was told about it. He was down on Front Street walking across a pedestrian crossing when a young man on an auxiliary cycle came along with no intention of stopping until Ernie’s arm reached out grabbing him bringing him to a screeching halt, the bike carrying on without a rider. Seems he gave him a dressing down and sent him on his way.
Another trick of his in Operations at the time the new Datsun 180 B patrols cars were in service and fitted with an AM/FM radio was to prevent them being used he would disconnect the radio. However, the lads would connect them use them & disconnect them again at the end of their tour of duty.
Editors note - Reading Dave's description about Ernie coming in on a Saturday morning in painter's clothing as OIC Central, and whitewashing the cell walls, is proof positive of what Derek Jenkinson said about him, “Ernie would never ask you to do anything that he wouldn’t do himself." I can't imagine anyone taking more pride in being a policeman than Ernie Moniz.
13th December 2021
Comments from Ray Sousa -
Editors Note - We just received this comment from our old friend Ray Sousa in Australia and are delighted to publish it. We are still working on a new system for our comments column and are hoping that it will very soon be back up and running so our members can make comments directly under these article. We will pass on our regards from Ray to Blanche. On the issue of DNA research, I undertook a DNA test through "23 and Me" a couple of years ago and the results were fascinating. I discovered that I have a touch of Neaderthol DNA. Who knew!!