By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
AN AMERICAN blogger yesterday questioned whether the Royal Bahamas Police Force is “covering up” crime against citizens of the United States to protect the tourism industry.
Jim Walker, who is also a maritime lawyer, in a blog on his website Cruise Law News, questioned whether the RBPF is “in cahoots with tourism and governmental officials to suppress information regarding crimes against tourists.”
His comments came after a warning to American citizens sent by the US Embassy in Nassau hightlighting sexual assaults against tourists, some of which were not detailed in police crime reports to the local press.
On Monday, the US Embassy issued a statement claiming a US citizen was kidnapped and violently raped while walking home and since July, three US citizens, including minors, were sexually assaulted by jet ski operators on Paradise Island.
In August, the father of one of the alleged rape victims on Paradise Island wrote The Tribune after he said a hotel on the island was not very helpful after his daughter was assaulted.
The Tribune understands four men have been charged in connection with that incident.
The warning noted that although US citizens are not targeted directly, over the past several weeks “there has been an increase in the level of crime in areas where US citizens live and frequent.”
“I also read the crime reports in the RBPF on a daily basis,” Mr Walker wrote. “There is no mention of these recent crimes in the official online crime data-base, even though the criminal offences are extremely violent (kidnapping, rape, armed robbery and sexual assault of children). Is the Bahamian police department in cahoots with tourism and governmental officials to suppress information regarding crimes against tourists?
“Certainly, there’s no doubt that admitting that US girls are being sexually assaulted by jet ski operators on Paradise Island is bad for tourism. What family would ever travel to Nassau if they knew that perverts were targeting their children and sexually assaulting them on the beach or in the water?
“Rather than announcing the crimes committed against tourists and bringing attention to them in order to locate witnesses and demand accountability, the police seem motivated to keep the embarrassing information secret.”
On Wednesday, Assistant Commissioner of Police Stephen Dean declined to comment on the embassy’s warning. However, he advised the media to look at crime press releases sent out by the RBPF daily and make their own assessments.
“A rape would usually come in the crime report,” he said on Wednesday.
“We report incidents where persons are molested.
“What I would say to you is you all get the press releases every morning, you scan them and make an assessment based on that.
“I would not speak to anything emanating out of the report, but I will tell you – you can determine whether my credibility is maligned or not.”
He further declined to speak on whether authorities have received complaints about Jet Ski operators.