Minister of National Security Marvin Dames in the House of Assembly. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff
MINISTER of National Security Marvin Dames said the Minnis administration is “not sleeping behind the wheel” as he outlined how the government intends to ramp up crime fighting initiatives by implementing gun detection technology in addition to CCTV in inner city communities.
The Mt Moriah MP said the government remains resolute in targeting offenders who believe they are above the law, adding these criminals will be found wherever they are.
This comes amid a slowdown of murders in the country. According to The Tribune’s records, there have been 117 murders for the year, with the last reported incident on October 26 when a woman’s partially decomposed body was found in bushes in Abaco. Police opened a murder investigation and a man has been arraigned in connection with her death. On Monday night, police said they found a badly decomposed body in Grand Bahama, but the deceased’s gender and cause of death is still to be established.
“We are very confident in what we are proposing in terms of initiatives,” Mr Dames told The Tribune yesterday ahead of the morning Cabinet meeting.
He added: “Officers of the police force continue on a daily basis to seize weapons, address the problem of drugs within these communities, continue to arrest those persons who are selling drugs and trafficking drugs, continuing to arrest those persons who are selling fire arms and trafficking firearms, continuing to focus on these gangs and continuing to look at ways to steer our young people away from gangs.
“There is no abetting. We are resolute and we are going after those persons who feel that they are above the law who feel that they can take on the law but we have a message for them that we are determined to find them wherever they are.
“Just over the weekend from Friday to Sunday between 15 to 18 weapons were taken off of the streets.”
According to Mr Dames, while the government focuses on the enforcement side of the crime problem, the issue has festered because of decades of neglect. He said the Minnis administration has undertaken a well co-ordinated and structured approach.
The Royal Bahamas Police Force has also recently completed its manpower assessment, Mr Dames said. This will determine whether additional police stations are needed and if certain divisions are adequately staffed to handle the demand.
“So we are looking at ways to get into these communities and to work with families to work with our young people to find wholesome activities to keep them occupied (and) to teach them the importance of respect and so we are working from a ministerial level. That is we have a ministerial committee that is comprising national security, youth, education, social services, Ministry of Works and the Attorney General’s Office and so we are looking at ways to break down those walls that separate us so that we can work collectively together.
“And we are working as well with civil society. I have met with the Christian Council. I have met with business people. We are getting ready to form a national council that will look at these issues and we are looking at Dr (David) Allen to be the chairman of that council. He and I have had a series of meetings since we came to office. We are looking too at the mental health aspect as it relates to crime. We have many people walking the streets with mental issues that we have yet to identify.
“We have been aggressively working on CCTV. So very shortly you will see us rolling it out in some of the communities maybe early in the New Year. And not only CCTV, but also gun detection technology, so we will be able to detect who is firing firearms and be able to triangulate where that individual is.
“So we are looking at analytics. So when crimes occur the cameras are strong enough to zero in on them. We are looking at a national drone programme and how can we shore-up our ports to mitigate the firearms coming through.
“So the idea is coordinated patrols and communication. We are not sleeping behind the wheel, there are a lot of things taking place behind the scenes.”
The Ministry of National Security also plans to roll out a national neighbourhood watch council that will bring all crime watch groups in the country together collectively. The initiative will train those involved to do more in their communities.