Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.
By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Deputy Chief Reporter
A DAY after a man was found murdered at Boatswain Hill in the capital, marking the fifth killing since the Free National Movement was elected to govern the country, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said “there is a sense of calmness” hovering over The Bahamas after his party’s crippling defeat of the Progressive Liberal Party.
However, he said he is sure National Security Minister Marvin Dames will be aggressive in rolling out the party’s crime plan.
On May 12, two days after the FNM’s victory and one day after Dr Minnis was sworn in as The
Bahamas’ fourth prime minister, a man was found shot dead in a car while the engine remained running, off Carmichael Road.
Following this, four more murders were recorded, which left three men and one woman - a mother, 23, of two young children - dead.
Despite the murders over the last 16 days, the prime minister offered no insight as to how his administration intended to tackle the issue.
Mr Dames has also failed, on several instances, to give specifics of the FNM’s crime plan since assuming office, although the party’s crime initiatives were detailed on the campaign trail and summarised in last week’s Speech from the Throne.
Asked to reveal when Bahamians could expect to see his administration’s new crime strategy rolled out in light of the most recent murders, Dr Minnis said: “I think the minister of national security is doing all he can to bring the plan out as aggressively as he can.
“But I am sure that you can detect that there is a sense of calmness over our shores unlike yesterday. (There is a) sense of calmness from many respects, especially after the government has changed.”
Under the former PLP administration there were 627 murders, according to The Tribune’s records.
Escalating crime under the former Christie led government was a major point of criticism from the FNM in the lead up to the general election. The party repeatedly castigated the former government and its National Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage for the crime situation. In one instance Dr Minis branded Dr Nottage “deaf” and “insensitive” concerning crime.
Two weeks ago, Mr Dames, a retired senior police officer and Mount Moriah MP, said plans to tackle crime from a societal viewpoint continues to be the mandate of the new administration.
At the time he said: “We know that we need to get Bahamians back to work if we want to reduce crime. That is the major concern for this administration. Poverty in our country has played a tremendous role in the advancement of criminality in our society.
“In order for us to discuss crime, we must start with our people and the economy. It is the only way. More importantly we need to respect our young people and get our young people to work.
“Over the years we have lost so many of our young people to crime and those in the position that I now find myself in have been unable to fix that.”
“That is a priority. The youth of this nation must be at the forefront in the resolution because they are primary in the issue. We need to aid our youth,” he also said.
The FNM, ahead of the general election, declared as one of its main principles that it believed it to be the right of every citizen to live and work in a safe and prosperous community.
The party further presented 20 ways it planned to decrease crime and improve the effectiveness of the police force.
The party said it planned to enforce a zero tolerance for crime; develop a modern, efficient crime fighting machine; establish, build and equip an independent forensic lab; work with community based partners; eliminate habitats where criminality flourishes; enact legislation to establish the National Intelligence Agency; enforce Marco’s Law and establish the sexual offences register; use state of the art technology; establish a national neighbourhood watch consultative council; establish a public sector anti-corruption agency; conduct a comprehensive review of police officers compensation and re-institute term limits for the commissioner of police, commodore of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and the commissioner of corrections.
Additionally, the party pledged to reorganise the police reserves; strengthen the RBDF satellite bases; implement aggressive measures to arrest the trafficking of narcotics and firearms; arrest gang violence through educational programmes; establish a Guns and Gangs Unit; undertake a comprehensive manpower audit of the police force and identify an external inspector for our law enforcement agencies whose responsibility will be to review the efficiency and effectiveness of our enforcement agencies.