The commissioner of police's statement on Urban Renewal:
THE flagship Urban Renewal 2.0 Programme is a direct response to past and current problems facing a number of inner city communities in the Bahamas such as crime, poor housing conditions, joblessness, illiteracy, homelessness, and other social ills that contribute to crime and anti-social behavior.
The project is the brainchild of the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas Perry Gladstone Christie and it has the full support of the commissioner of police, the executive management team, and all members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
The tenets of Urban Renewal 2.0 are included in the Commissioner's Policing Plan for 2012 and are clearly delineated under priorities one, two and three.
The Urban renewal Community Based Policing programme is one of the most ambitious crime prevention programmes in the Bahamas.
It is a comprehensive approach to crime, antisocial behavior, and community safety.
It emphasises both innovation and integration of efforts and resources by a wide range of agencies and the community at large.
Objectives of the Urban Renewal Project
To prevent crime and reduce the fear of crime in the community.
To identify and tackle the main causes of the social conditions which promote the occurrence of crime and deviant behavior.
To examine and improve the quality of life and the social and environmental conditions of high crime communities.
To involve the community in problem-solving and empower citizens to play an active role in their communities.
To identify the problems facing our young people and to engage them in positive activities and programmes geared toward making them productive citizens.
A brief history of the Urban Renewal Pilot Project
Urban Renewal was first launched as a pilot project in the constituency of Prime Minister Perry Christie, called Farm Road, in June 2002.
The community was identified as the pilot area because it showed trends that were prevalent in other communities in the Bahamas such as crime, social ills and urban decay.
Within just six short weeks of its inception, police officers assigned to the Farm Road Project visited every household and business establishment in the community.
They collected data and intelligence on environmental concerns, health issues, housing problems and criminal activities.
The police team was later joined by representatives from the Department of Social Services, the Ministry of Housing, Health Services and the Ministry of Works.
The team removed derelict vehicles, organised the demolition of abandoned buildings, dismantled street drug peddling groups, and arrested a number of prolific offenders. These initiatives resulted in a significant reduction in crime.
Within one year of the project's inception, the team established computer literacy centres, a youth marching band, a community development association and the national Urban Renewal Commission.
It also set up similar projects in eight other areas of New Providence, five in Grand Bahama and one in Abaco.
The team was awarded the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police Motorola Community Policing Award in May 2003 and won two other community policing awards from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP).
Role of the police in Urban Renewal
Members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force who are assigned to the Urban Renewal 2.0 Programme have an expanded scope of police work which includes crime, the fear of crime, quality of life offences, social and physical disorder, and community decay.
These officers are expected to use a full range of talents, skills and abilities to not only prevent and interdict crime, but to also enlarge their role and become community problem-solvers.
About community policing
Community policing focuses on bringing the police and citizens together to prevent crime and solve neighborhood problems. In community policing, the emphasis is on preventing crime.
Preventing crime is a big job. The police are more effective when they can depend on residents for help.
Community policing calls for a commitment to improving the quality of life in neighborhoods. Community Resource Officers (CRO) look to residents for help in solving neighborhood problems.
In essence, community policing gives citizens more control over the quality of life in their community.
General duties and activities of the police under the programme
Directed patrol - patrols are specific and intelligence driven, designed to deal with existing and emerging problems in the community. These patrols can be done on foot or in vehicles to facilitate communication and the building of relationships between the officers and community members.
Community involvement - Urban Renewal officers must build trusting relationships and partnerships with community members to address their specific problems.
Identifying and prioritising problems - community members are encouraged provide officers with information about the problems they face and work with them prioritise issues and problems.
Reporting - the Urban Renewal officer must share information with other police officers as well as the RBPF generally and with special sections (DEU, CDU, CIB, SIB, et cetera) about the specifics of his community.
Organising - organising activities oriented to specific problems and working to enhance the overall quality of life in the community.
Communicating - there are both formal and informal sessions aimed at educating people about crime prevention and other issues as well as managing communication with the media.
Conflict resolution - the Urban Renewal officer mediates, negotiates and resolves conflicts formally and informally (and challenges people to begin resolving problems on their own).
Referrals - the officer refers problems to specialised agencies.
Visiting - Urban Renewal officers make frequent visits to homes and businesses to recruit help and to educate.
Recruiting and supervising volunteers - the Urban Renewal officer works with volunteers to address social problems affecting the community.
Proactive projects - the Urban Renewal officer works along with the community to solve both long-term and short-term problems aimed at improving the quality of life.
Targeting special groups - Urban Renewal police officers will focus on special groups in the community such as the elderly, youth, women, physically challenged persons and the homeless.
Targeting disorder - Urban Renewal officers place specific emphasis on social and physical disorders and the degradation of neighbourhoods.
Networking with the private sector - the Urban Renewal officer actively communicates with and solicits the assistance of the business community for services and volunteer work.
Get to know people - the Urban Renewal officers form relationships with residents so as to learn about their concerns and to build confidence and trust between citizens and the police.