By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
NATIONAL Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage said saturation patrols and additional police officers in “hot spots” will continue throughout the Christmas season.
While refusing to comment on whether police were taken off the controversial 12-hour shifts, Dr Nottage said police will continue to do an excellent job during the holidays.
“Surveillance of those areas that are hot spots continues. The police are continuing to do what I think is an incredible job and they will continue to do their jobs. I haven’t seen any changes to tell me that (the 12-hour shift) has stopped. But I will tell you what has not stopped is the saturation of the hot spots, they will continue through the holidays,” he said
“All I know is on Saturday I visited a number of the police stations and policemen were at work and doing what they should be doing. Some of the stations had cars out on patrol and men and women officers on patrol and, although from time to time, we will get hiccups it is not a perfect system. I am reasonably satisfied that they are doing what they have to.”
Dr Nottage also dismissed speculation that the 12-hour shift system is just a “band-aid” on crime and will not fix the situation long term.
He said: “Crime has been with us from Adam and crime will be with us long after I am gone. So I don’t think that anyone is suggesting that what we are doing is going to stop crime completely, but we are using strategies which have had a beneficial affect particularly on violent crime and many of the other crimes and that is what we are seeking to do. Crime can only be stopped when everyone of us decide that we are going to do a personal duty to ourselves, a duty to our children and a duty to our country. Everyone has a duty, even the press. But to say that we can totally get rid of crime is an unreasonable expectation.”
His comments came after sources told The Tribune that the Royal Bahamas Police Force has started to take officers off the 12-hour work shift.
Well placed police sources said detectives, officers of the Central Detective Unit (CDU) and the Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) are no longer working the shifts, though their jobs often demand that they work irregular hours.
When asked on Tuesday whether the 12-hour system was being wound down, Commissioner Ellison Greenslade and Police Staff Association (PSA) chairman Dwight Smith declined to discuss the matter.
Mr Greenslade said: “I will not speak to anyone about our rotation system anymore and it was a mistake for me to ever divulge what our system is like or our rotation.
“As Bahamians are preparing to go into the holiday season I want to ensure that they are safe and whatever it takes to keep them safe is what I will do. But I can make one assurance to the Bahamian people and that is as they enter the Christmas Holiday and take to the streets to shop and enjoy merriment I will do whatever it takes to ensure that they are safe while they are out there.”
Following complaints from many officers about the extended hours they are required to work, particularly due to the lack of compensation they are receiving, talks on the matter are now taking place between the association and the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
And while he refused to say whether officers were being taken off the 12-hour shift, Mr Smith did confirm that the Police Staff Association is no longer considering taking legal action against the government at this time.