Dr Bernard Nottage, newly appointed National Security Minister, recently announced that he will be convening a National Crime Forum on the Resolution of Crime in The Bahamas, so that all interested entities will have a chance to provide input and analysis to the nation’s most pressing social problem.
Immediately upon the announcement, opposing political parties criticized the proposal. The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) which has been surprisingly quiet since the election has surfaced to call the plan a “stalling tactic” and claimed that the PLP administration has already had enough time and information to be able to solve the crime problem without further public consultation. Former FNM National Security Minister Tommy Turnquest appeared amenable to the idea, but suggested that the PLP had claimed prior to the election that they already had the solutions.
In March 2012, prior to the election and in the wake of widespread international reports reaching CBAs and international viewers about the increased crime level in The Bahamas, the Council for Concerned Bahamians Abroad (CBA) called for the then FNM government to convene a national crime summit. In the report first published on www.ourbahamas.org, the CBA offered some alternatives used in other jurisdictions, some of which were implemented and assisted by CBAs. The CBA review also expressed that the convening of such a summit was necessary for several reasons. A major purpose would be to provide the ever important tourist and investor communities with the confidence that something big was being done about the problem. Another reason was to ensure that all interested parties were participating in a non-partisan effort to resolve the serious blemish on the county as viewed from outside. The report detailed the crime situation as a major problem the more than 50,000 Bahamian-Americans must address for enquiring prospective tourists.
The new security minister’s approach in convening a national crime summit is to be applauded, and especially so in light of the additional crime solving measures his ministry has implemented within its very short time in office.
To date, the new government and national security ministry has re-implemented the Urban Renewal Program, and immediately pushed a program to crack down on the number of illegal firearms. Portions of the Project Safe Bahamas and Operation Cease Fire, as outlined in its Charter for Governance, have already been implemented. Newly hired police officers with specialized experience have now been engaged in the process, and 41 Royal Bahamas Police Force officers have been assigned to Urban Renewal Centers. Increased policing of schools has started, and the ministry has begun the removal of many abandoned homes and derelict vehicles, and programmed increased police walkabouts in many inner city communities. Also notable in the process, the new government has highly publicized its new procedures, sending a message to the criminals and providing the ever important assurance to the international community that resolution of the problem is at hand and being taken seriously. Reports from CBAs around the globe confirm that the international media is already attuned and reporting that these remedial measures are quickly being implemented.
Viewed from the outside these efforts right out of the gate by the new government are reassuring and proper. The fact that they seem to have hit the road running against the crime situation will certainly be positively viewed by the international community. Viewing from the outside with a CBA perspective, it appears that it would behoove the opposing political parties to be more careful in their criticisms on this issue. The issue is so important that all entities within the country should concentrate on providing whatever positive assistance and solutions they may contribute. It may be more appropriate that they jump on a bandwagon that at least in this case seems quickly and prudently off and running in the right direction.
This article in my opinion is highly subjective and bears no relation to the realities of what is actually happening in The Bahamas. While I concur that every effort should be made to fight against the scourge of crime, as a Bahamian citizen resident in the country,I question the sincerity of those who are now calling for all hands on deck to fight crime, when as recently as a month ago, they posted billboards all of the capital city highlighting the level of crime in an effort to secure political points and an election win. Indeed, politicians should be careful as the electorate today do not suffer from memory lapses or are as uninformed as they were in the past. Social media is very much a part of keeping them informed as to what is said and what is actually done by politicians. The electorate is then left to conclude whether words match deeds.