AS the murder rate hit 86 for the year, FNM leader Dr Hubert Minnis called on the governing PLP to do a better job in tackling crime.
Under the PLP, he noted, 41 people have been murdered – nearly as many in their four months of governance as occurred in the first five months of the year, when the FNM were in office.
“That said, the governing party continues to use its magical numbers machine, its fancy talk and blatant storytelling to advance the view that Urban Renewal 2.0 is a panacea, that they held and still have all the answers to the crime problem and that they, the PLP, have worked miracles. Oh, but for political reality!” Dr Minnis said.
He said Bahamians must already feel disillusioned by the PLP’s false promises and often repeated pledge to “redouble” the government’s effort to fight crime.
“When it comes to a tangible thrust to fighting crime, one wonders what exactly (Prime Minister) Christie means. Promises, promises, promises – and more promises – the PLP is long on talk, short on action,” Dr Minnis said.
He noted that compared to last year, crimes against the person – according to the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s own crime statistics – are up by five per cent.
“Moreover, the placing of armed police officers in schools — around our nation’s darlings, our nation’s youth — is a gross miscalculation. The school is a place where learning is supposed to occur, where we groom and develop a dutiful citizenry. The school should never be morphed into a militarised zone due to knee-jerk tokenism, or political expediency,” Dr Minnis said.
“With police in the schools, how will our already over-stretched police force effectively meet the demands of serving and protecting the citizenry of our beloved land? Can we afford to assign more than 200 armed officers to the schools?
“And, what will school security officers do? If Urban Renewal 2.0 has seen so much success, as the PLP claims, then why are they posting police officers in schools, why are they not confident that their efforts in Urban Renewal will translate from the community onto the school campuses? Why have they not thought to simply post officers outside of the school zones during peak hours?”
Dr Minnis said the parameters of Urban Renewal 2.0 have yet to be defined.
So far, he said, the reincarnated Urban Renewal 2.0 has led to the tearing down of a “few houses, some of which they should not have”.
He said: “The PLP claims to have seen positive changes; however, we haven’t seen any real inroads in terms of the fight against crime. In fact in notable instances senior and experienced police prosecutors have been summarily removed from the Magistrates Courts and posted to Urban Renewal, thereby throwing several Magistrates Courts into administrative turmoil, and badly hampering the struggle to administer timely and effective justice in our Magistrates’ Courts, which more than 90 per cent of Bahamians look to for redress from those who commit all but the most serious crimes.
“In fact the result of the Urban Renewal turmoil is that a full Superintendant of Police (one of the most senior ranks in the force) has been assigned on an emergency basis to work as a prosecutor in a Magistrates Court (performing the job usually performed by a Police Corporal, Sergeant or perhaps, at most, a Police Inspector).
“Moreover, when will the PLP’s promises to place greater emphasis on child protection laws, witness protection and swift justice be unveiled in a detail-oriented format? Or, are these other examples of that political ‘hot air’ which has become synonymous with the Perry Christie PLP? What will be the genesis of such initiatives and who will have oversight?”