Minister of National Security Marvin Dames at the ceremony for 34 recruits who completed fire training at the Police College in Freeport. Photo: Vandyke Hepburn
By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
WHILE he said on Friday he is pleased by the results of new policing strategies implemented under the Minnis administration, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said “we are a very long way from getting it done,” and indicated that new crime-fighting technology would be rolled out in the first quarter of 2019.
In addition to the establishment of the Gun and Gang Unit and Rapid Response Team, the minister indicated that new technological tools would be introduced to all field officers before June 2019.
“As criminality evolves and becomes more sophisticated, the government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas is committed to ensuring and providing cutting-edge technology associated with worldwide industry standards – drones, body cams, and shot spotters are just a few of the crime-fighting tools that government will be providing to the Royal Bahamas Police Force, and Defence Force and other law enforcement agencies around the Bahamas to further reduce crime levels in the nation. We will begin rolling those in during the first quarter of next year,” he said.
Minister Dames said the Shot Spotter technology, which costs the government $1.9 million during this fiscal year, will be implemented in New Providence during the first quarter of 2019.
“We hope to sign in just about a week’s time a contract with Shot Spotter to provide gunshot detection technology throughout New Providence and look to do so in Grand Bahama during the fiscal period of next year,” he said.
He explained that this technology would improve response time as it can triangulate the location of a gunshot and instantaneously send the information to police vehicles on the streets.
Over the next three years, he said that the technology would be deployed in strategic areas throughout New Providence and expanded to Grand Bahama during 2019.
Mr Dames indicated that an additional $4.1 million has also been approved for a multi-agency drone programme.
“Request for proposals have already been issued, and we hope that in the very near future The Bahamas will acquire drones with medium and long-term range used as part of a comprehensive crime-fighting strategy throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas,” he said.
Mr Dames also noted that the Ministry of National Security has forged a partnership with the University of The Bahamas in the training of officers.
“In January 2019, a new relationship between UB and Ministry of National Security will emerge. This partnership will assist in the professional development of officers as a part of a management and leadership programme for mid and senior level law enforcement officers,” he said.
The minister commended Police Commissioner Anthony Ferguson and his executive team for their efforts.
Mr Dames stated that the commissioner has used the strategic deployment of officers to ensure sufficient manpower is available to provide policing services throughout all islands of the Bahamas.
As a result, some officers will be deployed to Grand Bahama and other parts of the country, he said.
“Government is fully aware it will take more than additional officers on the ground to sustain the current downward trend of crime levels in the country.
“We are cognizant of the fact that with intelligent and thoughtful human resources management, the police force will make tremendous inroads in the prevention and detection of crime and violence,” he stated.
Mr Dames stressed that law enforcement agencies will not operate in silos but will form a formidable seamless strategy that enforces the laws of the country.
The minister also noted that while officers will be deployed to core policing functions, they will be employing civilians in non-traditional areas that rely on the expertise of industry professionals.
His comments came at a ceremony for 34 recruits who completed fire training at the Police College in Freeport, making them the first Fire Squad to graduate in a passing out ceremony in over a decade from the Royal Bahamas Police Force.