Police officers are working hard to continue fulfilling their mandate to protect and serve the nation, said Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) Commissioner of Police (COP) Anthony Ferguson.
The Police Commissioner made this statement Tuesday (January 7) afternoon, during the annual address, where he shared 2019 crime statistics and strategies for the New Year via video conference at the Gerald Bartlett Complex (Police Headquarters) with media personnel.
“This afternoon I speak with confidence that the men and women of the Royal Bahamas Police Force are willing and able to carry out their mandate which is to maintain law and order, preservation of the peace, the prevention and detection of crime and to enforce all laws with which they are charged,” he said.
COP Ferguson noted that officers have done a “stellar” job in the past year and commended their law enforcement partners, particularly members of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF), who have also contributed to that mandate.
He acknowledged that serious, intentional major injuries continue to be a concern for law enforcement and by extension medical professionals.
“There continues to be far too many illegal firearms in the hands of persons with criminal intent,” he said.
He added that the police are aware of the many incidents of retaliations, drugs and relationships which are some of the motives that prompt these violent acts.
Ferguson revealed that preliminary figures for 2019 indicated that crimes across the entire country have decreased by seven percent compared to 2018.
Ferguson added that violent crimes have creased by one percent, while property crimes decreased by nine percent.
Crime in New Providence decreased by six percent, and in Grand Bahama it decreased by 10 percent.
Crime in the Family Islands decreased by eight percent.
“We remain encouraged that for the second consecutive year murders remain under 100,” he said.
The Commissioner noted that this does not mean that law enforcement should become complacent, but that they should work even harder to further reduce the crime rate.
Murder overall increased by four percent, with 95 incidents in 2019 compared to 91 in 2018. Eighty took place in New Providence, 10 in Grand Bahama, two in Abaco, two in Bimini and one recorded in Eleuthera.
Ferguson furthered that in the first quarter of 2019, statistics indicated that that there 19 recorded murders compared to 26 in 2018.
There were nine reports of rape compared to 18 in 2018, and 87 reported armed robberies compared to 104 reported in 2018.
In the second quarter, 26 murders were recorded compared to 38 in 2018, a decrease of seven percent.
There were 11 recorded rapes compared to 20 in 2018, a decrease of 45 percent and 128 incidents of armed robbery compared to 123 in 2018, an increase of four percent.
During the third quarter there was a 100 percent increase in murder. An 18 percent increase in rape and a 51 percent increase in armed robberies.
Going into the fourth quarter of the year Hurricane Dorian struck Grand Bahama on September 1, 2019, after devastating Abaco. This greatly affected the RBPF policing strategies for that period.
Ferguson stated that there were 60 deaths and 32 reported missing persons in Abaco and 11 deaths and 22 reported missing persons in Grand Bahama.
“Of the bodies recovered, nine were identified and two are pending,” he said.
He added that while there may be questions regarding the death toll, the police can only release information that they have been officially given.
Ferguson furthered that Dorian showed law enforcement that even the best strategies cannot stand up to an act of God.
However, the RBPF quickly made adjustments to their strategies.
“Officers were immediately dispatched to Abaco to police the island,” he said.
Further policing after this, resulted in the arrest of eight persons for possession of illegal firearms and ammunition and a total of 16 firearms and over 6,000 rounds of ammunition were apprehended.
Ferguson informed that since hurricane Dorian over 400 officers were dispatched to Abaco on rotation.
“To do this day the island is being manned by officers from New Providence on a monthly rotation,” he said.
Prior to the storm there were 49 officers stationed on Abaco, today there are 75.
While the RBPF’s attention was focused on Abaco a handful of criminals were active in New Providence and there was a shift in crime trends.
Therefore, team was used to stabilize crime in New Providence until the end of 2019.
“Particularly in September and October where we experienced major increases in murder and armed robbery,” he said.
In September there were 13 murders in New Providence, two in Grand Bahama and 64 recorded armed robbery cases.
In October there were ten murders in New Providence, and 17 reports of armed robbery for a combined total of 25 murders and 140 armed robberies for those two months. Overall there were 470 armed robberies used with firearms.
He stated that operations resulted in 23 weapons were seized, 1,290 persons were arrested; 12 arrested for murder, five for attempted murder and 44 for armed robbery. Additionally, 71 persons were arrested for drug related matters and 22 for unlicensed firearms.
Overall in the fourth quarter there was a 31 percent decrease in murder, 33 percent decrease in rape and a nine percent decrease in armed robbery.
He furthered that in 2019 the police recovered 329 firearms and over 11,000 rounds of ammunition, and increase compared to 285 firearms recovered along with 6,000 rounds of ammunition in 2018.
According to reports, 83 percent of 79 murders were committed with firearms.
COP Ferguson finally thanked law enforcement efforts and members of the public for their contributions to making the Bahamas a safer place for all.
He revealed that the 2020 Policing Plan is near completion and will be submitted to the Hon. Marvin Dames Minister of National Security soon before its release.
“We look forward to 2020 with great anticipation as we continue to execute our mandate,” he said.