Monitoring police changes
Published: Oct 02, 2013
Whenever administrations launch new crime initiatives that substantively make sense, they usually get support from the majority of Bahamians. We all want more peaceful communities. We all want to feel safe. We do not feel safe in New Providence.
One of the main components of the new crime plan launched by the government is more visible and consistent police presence – especially here in our main island. This was something the last Free National Movement (FNM) administration worked toward too. But for some reason the goal of consistently seeing marked police patrols in The Bahamas is like winning the lottery.
Nonetheless, a new initiative has been launched. If it brought more officers to the frontline in weeks one and two, Prime Minister Perry Christie, National Security Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage, Minister of State for National Security Keith Bell and Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade must ensure that more officers are still visible six months from now. Police are good at showing full force when patrolling initiatives are launched. The Royal Bahamas Police Force is not good at keeping up marked presence here in New Providence. This has been a problem for years under various police and political administrations.
We would challenge the PM, his national security team and the commissioner to ride around New Providence at nights from time to time. Before this initiative was launched, few marked police cars could be seen. Few police appeared present.
Marked presence is important, as it deters people from criminal activity of all types – from running red lights to riding around with guns seeking someone to rob or kill. It is clear that after policymakers send down the policy, somewhere and sometime thereafter what was initiated breaks down.
There are many complicated things that need to be done to help address our crime problem. Laws need to be changed; our education system reformed. But we all should agree that getting consistent marked police patrols should not be so allusive. We need the right number of men and women; they need to be properly scheduled; they need vehicles and equipment, including guns, vests and tactical belts with non-lethal weapons; and they need supervisors to ensure they are where they are assigned to be.
There is too much crime in The Bahamas. The province of Quebec in Canada has a population around 8 million people. It is the country’s second largest province. In 2010, it recorded 84 homicides. The Bahamas has a population of 350,000 people, and by September of this year we nearly exceed Quebec’s 2010 total.
Even though more and more Bahamians are becoming discouraged by the state of affairs in New Providence, we must not give up. The government, police and the honest members of the citizenry must continue to search for solutions. We must not allow things to get worse.