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Insight: Feeling Safer? I’M Amazed Minnis Could Say That With A Straight Face

PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.

PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.

By Malcolm Strachan

WITH the nation on pace for its lowest murder count in a decade, the government has much to be proud of with regard to its crime fighting efforts. The previous government campaigned and won the 2012 election largely on an empty promise to eradicate crime. Unfortunately, we all know how that panned out. Successive murder records were set under the former administration and fear was at an all-time high with rapes, robberies and murder rampant throughout the country.

Now, as the victims of homicides are mostly being confined to a group of prolific offenders - many out on bail for serious crimes - there is a notion that the vast majority of the killings are retaliatory. Certainly, as the holiday season approaches, so the level of fear increases a few notches. The month of December, opening with two double murders – one in particular, a gruesome slaying in broad daylight of a man and woman on the premises of Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre – have many in the nation feeling anxious.

While murders have decreased by around 30 percent from last year, the criminal element in the country is still very frightening. The prospect of being in the wrong place at the wrong time when bloodthirsty killers exist among us is an ever-present reminder of how dangerous the times are.

This causes much concern when we hear the prime minister – not once, but twice – claim the fear of crime is down. For one to suggest the Bahamian people are no longer scared of crime is an absolute absurdity, and any fair-thinking person would not be off-base to question the mental faculties of one who makes such an utterance.

Sadly, Prime Minister Minnis’ suggestion that the decrease in murders is a barometer for the Bahamian people’s level of fear for all crime is either an intentional misrepresentation or an indictment on his senses. The prime minister certainly ought to be careful of making such irresponsible statements.

When he spoke to the media at the end of last week, the prime minister said: “Now when you talk to the average Bahamian yesteryear, there was great fear of crime. They were fearful of coming out of their homes, fearful of driving around, etc. That fear has been relaxed. They’re no longer fearful of crime. They’re no longer fearful of going to shopping centres, environments, etc, and we will even decrease that even further.”

Indubitably, the prime minister must have only had conversations with his constituents in Killarney, as his assertion is not in line with the thinking of the majority of the Bahamian people. Commentary underneath the digital publication of The Tribune’s article, as you would imagine, did not take so kindly to the prime minister’s pronouncement.

Commenters did everything from question Dr Minnis’ mental aptitude to suggesting he attempt going out in Nassau after dark. While the prime minister’s disconnectedness with the sufferings of the people have come into question before, it is quite alarming that he would make such a suggestion with a straight face.

Surely, he must be kidding us, right?

Actually, a greater question comes about as a result of the prime minister’s declaration of the citizenry no longer being fearful of crime: Why would he politicise this issue just to voice support of the RBPF, as if both are mutually exclusive? Rightfully, the Bahamian people are fearful of crime. Especially if you live in Nassau - where the majority of crime takes place (on an island seven by 21 miles) - unless you live in a gated community, the threat of crime is always a near and present danger.

Perhaps the prime minister wants only to highlight the good job the police is doing to continue to deflect from the conversation of capital punishment. While in opposition, he was a fervent advocate of “popping the necks of murderous scumbags”. Yet, upon becoming prime minister, he has not shown the impetus to change the constitution and remove power from the Privy Council as it relates to our ability to hang the nation’s most violent offenders.

Rather, the tango continues.

Additionally, technology such as CCTV and gunshot detection devices are still seemingly a moving goal post. Since request-for-proposals were put out by the ministry of national security a few months ago, we have yet to hear anything else on the matter. Aside from the perpetual call from the Bahamian people to bring more preventative crime-fighting measures on stream, we’ve not heard much from the government.

Moreover, while we celebrate the small victory that exists in the lowest murder total in the past decade, we can just as easily see when a spike occurs as a result of a series of retaliatory killings taking place. Case in point – the series of shootings that took place last week. While no connection was made by the police, it must be acknowledged we have seen similar domino effects in the past. One killing begets another and another.

Nonetheless, after the carnage under both of the previous administrations, murder became commonplace in our society. Likewise, the notion of murder being as low as it is in comparison was a dream.

Again, while we laud the numbers, the fact 80-plus lives have been taken as a result of violence still forces us to put things in perspective.

One thing the prime minister has said that is true is that one murder is too much. As we round off the year and usher in 2019, it is our sincere hope that not just murders, but all crime will continue to decrease.

At the same time, The Bahamas is suffering socially, and that must be addressed as a proactive and preemptive measure to crime. Fighting crime, in its essence, denotes reaction by the police force, and they’ve been doing a great job.

However, the level of fear, while it may have not increased, has certainly not decreased. The job we do before a crime is committed is far more important than what we do in the aftermath.

The years of murder records being crushed as blood painted our streets has arguably left the citizenry experiencing mass PTSD. And certainly, there is a sense that gang violence is a powder keg that can explode at any moment.

This isn’t anything that we’ve never seen before.

That said, the prime minister has provided his assurance that they intend to decrease crime even further. This is certainly most welcomed and supported, as we hope that Minister of National Security Marvin Dames and Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson can build upon what has made them successful this past year.

Perhaps, one day, we can all experience the utopia of not being afraid of crime on our streets anymore.

Until then, let’s do our best to keep ourselves, as well as our families, safe.

Comments

DDK 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Good Insight. Hitting many nails on the head!

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tell_it_like_it_is 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Directly to the point... it was just a foolish thing to say! It makes HAM look out of touch... then again, maybe he is!

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SP 3 months, 2 weeks ago

There is obviously a serious undiagnosed mental affliction that goes along with occupying the PM office and anyone sitting in the prime ministers' chair.

Similarly, Lynden Pindling, Hubert Ingraham, and Perry Christie, unquestionably all suffered from "foot in mouth", "senseless dumb utterances", and "unsolicited pronouncements that nobody with sense would believe" afflictions.

The real problem is these guys live in a bubble and are totally out of touch with the reality of the average citizen. After 25 years in power and upon losing his first election Mr. Pindling said: "I didn't,t know the people were suffering".

Dr. Minnis has quickly adopted the "let them eat cake" syndrome, which will undoubtedly lead to his unseating!

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John 3 months, 2 weeks ago

First off t, there is a significant decrease in serious crime, including murder, in the US and several Caribbean countries. Jamaica’s murder rate is down 25% for the year, compared to 30 % in The Bahamas, so it cannot all be attributable to increased and/or better policing. Secondly mass shootings in the US are also on a decline, but many still avoid large gatherings including malls and school campuses out of fear. And yes the murders may be mostly among a selection of the population, gang bangers and hardened or career criminals, but the average age of both the killers and the victims remain unchanged which indicates that new people are joining in these gangs and in these crimes that lead to murder, And replacing those who are killed or sent away to jail. And if there is any credibility to the headlines that appeared on one of the tabloids today, apparently police has sufficient information on those who are leading this gang activity in the country and put an end to it. And finally the prime minister may not be all delusional when he says Bahamians may feel safe in the country again. There were three days of sailing events at the Montagu foreshore. Thousands attended over the weekend and there was hardly a squirmish. Albeit many who attended were from the family islands or from the rake and scrape age that sailing draws. And then there are several concerts scheduled over the next few weeks that includes rappers from the US who promote gangsters and crime and violence through their music. Will the results be different from the event at Montagu.. even if not at the event itself, what about the days following it?

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SP 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Instead of running around making stupid statements, Dr. Minnis should be focused on getting a slice of the Caribbean coconut industry which every government was totally oblivious of!

https://today.caricom.org/2018/12/07/...">https://today.caricom.org/2018/12/07/...

The Bahamas is blessed with beauty and cursed with stupid politicians.

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Porcupine 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Mr. Strachan,

You touched on a few salient points. One: Our Prime Minister is unhinged. Clearly a lack of mental acuity. Inability to think properly. Two: There are still many social problems, especially poverty, which will continue to contribute to increasing crime. Three: It is all relative. We still have unacceptable levels of violent crime here. Unacceptable. Four: You are right, and PM is wrong. We are still very fearful of crime. Should all Bahamian citizens be provided with bodyguards?

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birdiestrachan 3 months, 2 weeks ago

It was amazing that he made his statement when four persons were shot in two days. I believe one occurred in the day light. and persons were in the news expressing their fears. How dumb is that to make such a statement. ??

These are serious times with doc having no understanding. dull and out of touch with reality.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 months, 2 weeks ago

As they say in the political vernacular.....Minnis is toast! LMAO

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