By DENISE MAYCOCK Tribune Freeport Reporter dmaycock@tribunemedia.net FREEPORT - National Security Minister Tommy Turnquest commended police on Grand Bahama for seizing millions of dollars worth of illegal drugs and firearms in 2011. Speaking at the annual police thanksgiving service held at Central Zion Baptist Church in Eight Mile Rock, Mr Turnquest reported that DEU officers on the island confiscated 341.24 pounds of cocaine, valued at $12.8 million, last year. He said 1,322 pounds of marijuana valued at $1.3 million and 20,775 marijuana plants, in addition to $805,491.10 in cash, was also seized. Sixty firearms and 761 rounds of ammunition were removed from the streets in Grand Bahama in 2011, Mr Turnquest added. "I commend Assistant Commissioner Emrick Seymour and his team here in Grand Bahama for the innovative crime fighting initiatives that they continue to take, and especially for their success rate in the apprehension of criminals, particularly as it relates to the illicit drug trade," he said. Mr Turnquest said many criminal enterprises that use the island as their base have been disrupted thanks to the efforts of the police. "The presence of officers in areas where drugs and crime are responsible for the breakdown of law and order and social cohesion in our communities and neighbourhoods is of critical importance. "The key to addressing crime and the fear of crime in our country continues to be the increased presence and visibility of police officers to expose and bring to justice those drug dealers and drug pushers who use their ill-gotten wealth and intimidation or fear tactics, to exercise influence and control in their neighbourhoods and communities in order to frustrate law enforcement efforts. "I am assured by the commissioner and his senior officers that the proactive strategies put in place will achieve the desired results." Mr Turnquest said the government has spared no effort in providing the police with the tools needed to fight crime effectively. In 2011, he said, $14 million was spent on new patrol cars, two high-tech vans and equipment. The money was also used to implement an electronic monitoring system for suspects on bail and upgrade the communication control rooms in Nassau and Freeport. Mr Turnquest also noted that 435 new officers have enlisted since 2007, including two entire squads exclusively for Grand Bahama. The minister urged the public to continue providing the police with information that could help them prevent or solve crimes. He also commended ACP Seymour and his officers for reaching out to young people through their Summer Youth Camp, the West End Fishing Camp and a music programme. Mr Turnquest said a general promotion exercise for the force will soon be held, and those most deserving will be promoted. "I assure you of fairness in the exercise; however, there may be some police officers who are deserving of promotion that may not be able to be accommodated at this time, due to positions not being available within their next rank. "I have advised the commissioner that those officers who are deserving of promotions that cannot be accommodated at this time will be rewarded in some way," he said.


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