With just over two months into 2017 and the murder count for the country at 29, Minister of National Security, Dr. Bernard Nottage addressed the escalating numbers, yesterday in the House of Assembly.
After seven people were killed in the capital over what was described as a “bloody weekend” last week, Nottage said, on Wednesday that new measures will be implemented, immediately, to combat the devastating surge in crime.
“I wish to begin by offering my sincere condolences to the families of those persons who have lost their lives due to these incidents. I want to put in clear context what is happening, so that members of the public will have a better understanding of exactly what is taking place.
“Police officials are fully aware that these incidents, mostly involving a small group of prolific violent offenders, some of whom were on bail for serious violent crimes – most of these incidents have their nexus, in ongoing feuds between persons affiliated with gangs and drugs,” said Nottage.
“In fact, some of these persons may be wanted perpetrators today, and become murder victims tomorrow. As we are all aware, a number of suspects have been charged in a number of these incidents and others are being sought, and can be expected to be taken into custody and charged shortly.
“You should also know that due to intelligence and proactive police operations, several would-be murders have been prevented.
“Mr. Speaker, not surprisingly these incidents have raised the fear of crime in members of the public who use homicides as the parameter by which to measure crime. Each murder though, is one too many and we must do everything in our power to ensure that crime in general, homicides in particular, continue to be addressed comprehensively.”
He noted that earlier this week the Commissioner of Police, Ellison Greenslade, provided a status on the investigations with respect to the most recent crimes on the island of New Providence, where the public assisted in seeking wanted suspects.
“I wish to commend our hard working police officers and I want to thank the members of the public who have helped, rapidly, to bring the perpetrators into custody and encourage them, as I have done repeatedly, recently, that they must not harbor lawbreakers in their homes or in their communities or wherever, they know they may be seeking to escape the law.
“We must now take urgent steps to stop and prevent these acts before they occur,” Nottage stated.
“Being successful in crime prevention must involve a greater police presence in targeted areas, and via target and focused police action. To accomplish this the following strategies are among those being implemented immediately.
“Mr. Speaker, foot patrols in inner cities and crime hot spots will be increased. Secondly, the activation and placement of specially designed mobile police vans to serve as manned police stations in communities where these incidents have been occurring, will take place.”
He said that the police force currently has two such specially designed vans, which will be located in hot spot crime communities immediately.
“Aggressive ‘Stop and Search’ of suspicious persons and suspicious vehicles throughout all policing divisions will be implemented. Mr. Speaker, intelligence has shown that the type of vehicles which are used in many of these crimes, not only the type of vehicles used, but the way they are configured and the number of occupants therein. We will have a ‘stop and search’ of such vehicles and of such persons with immediate effect,” revealed Nottage.
Additionally, the minister noted that there will be periodic road checks at various intersections, to ensure that all road users are following the road traffic laws, will continue to be implemented.
“Purposeful lock downs of communities and crime hot spots, as recently in the Kemp Road area, where large teams of law enforcement officers executed search warrants, arrest warrants and searched for illegal drugs, firearms and stolen vehicles, will be taking place.
“Urban Renewal teams will be expanded and will be engaged in improved surveillance of crime hot spots and criminal communities; all back alleys that are used by residents sometimes for criminal effect will be manned,” Nottage revealed.
“I have directed the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) to commence joint operations. Within the next several days we will be seeing joint operation in communities using the Defence Force and the police force, complimenting each other.
“Intelligence suggests that there are connections between many of these violent incidents on our streets and inmates in the department of correctional services, namely Her Majesty’s Prison and inmates who have been recently released from prison, hence I have directed that there be a closer and better sharing of information and working relationship between the RBPF and the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services”
In this vein, he shared that a dedicated team of police officers will be utilized to ensure that all persons being electronically monitored comply with their bail conditions.
Nottage said that the records reflect that many of those who are the victims of violent crimes are persons who are outfitted with electronic monitoring bracelets and many of those who perpetrate crimes are likewise.
“We will be petitioning the court to impose restrictions, Mr. Speaker, on persons who are electronically monitored. Such restrictions may include geographical restrictions, curfews, in order to have better control and surveillance of such persons.
“The closed circuit television (CCTV) system, which has been a useful crime prevention and detection tool is to be expanded by increasing the number of cameras throughout New Providence.
“Additionally, with immediate affect, the CCT system will be manned on a 24-hour basis to enable early detection, and hopefully prevention of criminal activities. Additionally, because of the number of prolific violent offenders, we will be establishing a violent prolific offenders initiative, in which violent offenders will be targeted by the law enforcement agencies, swiftly prosecuted when they commit violent crimes and severely punished if they are found to be guilty,” informed Nottage.
“We are making full use of all of our law enforcement agencies to address this crime issue, as each of them brings skills, expertise and resources that can be tapped into, to assist with crime prevention and detection.
“We will establish a gun interdiction task force, which will be made up of members of the RBPF, RBDF, the Department of Corrections, the Customs Department and the Immigration Department, all of whom are engaged in protecting our country and protecting our boarders. They will be mandated to effectively reduce the influx of illegal weapons including firearms and ammunition into the country.”
The Minister of National Security noted that a Mentoring Program of sort will be implemented where reformed persons will be trained to encourage at risk youth, not to live a life of crime, as they once did.
“I wish to send sa trong message that in all cases in which persons have been charged with the possession of an illegal firearms and or ammunition, we will henceforth be objecting to them receiving bail.
“We are also establishing Mr. Speaker, violence breakers throughout high risk communities who are men and or women, some of whom may have had their brushes with the law, but who are reformed.
“The intention is that they shall serve as positive mentors for at risk youth. Violence breakers are reformed offenders who have completed specialized training, to assist their communities in the reduction of crime, by steering selected youth away from being involved in crime and violence and to living a legal existence,” said Nottage.
Published Thursday, February 16, 2017