Marvin Dames, Minister of National Security. Photo: Terrel W. Carey Sr/Tribune Staff
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
WITH the country on pace to record fewer than 100 murders in a year for the first time in nearly a decade, National Security Minister Marvin Dames yesterday declared his goal for the year ahead: fewer than 90 murders.
He said this can be achieved if the Royal Bahamas Police Force hits its human resources targets, reaching a point where people will see that “almost every time you turn a corner, a police car is not far away.”
HIs statement came as the RBPF said no major matters were reported on Christmas Day. Police officers have swarmed the streets this holiday season.
There have been 90 murders so far this year; 2010, when 94 people were murdered, was the last year the country recorded fewer than 100 murders. The country last recorded fewer than 90 murders in 2009 when 87 people were killed.
When asked about the matter, Mr Dames said: “Ninety and under is the target for next year, absolutely. I want to see these numbers continue to decline. If our policies are working then we can expect to see further declines.
“We’re not celebrating,” he said. “Even the numbers for this year, while we have improved from a statistical standpoint, with the assistance of the public we may achieve lower records in a number of critical areas. We are not resting because we feel these numbers can and will continue to decline as we begin to follow the recommendations outlined in the manpower audit, one which is bringing the number of constables up to an acceptable level. We want to see almost every time you turn a corner a police car is not far away. We are well on the way to achieving that because the last 134 officers that would have passed (through the Police Training College) this month have already been assigned in a number of critical areas in mass numbers. We are working towards achieving what the manpower audit called for so very shortly you will begin to see the presence that the public has been longing for for maybe decades. This is the first true audit we conducted. We walked into a failed model and if we say model is broken, how do we fix it?”
The manpower audit, released in May, concluded the RBPF needs 791 additional constables to effectively fulfil its mandate. The audit determined the RBPF is too top-heavy. It lambasted recent promotion exercises.
Among the other initiatives Mr Dames credited for the murder rate decline is the expansion of neighbourhood watch councils.
“There are some things, like the National Neighbourhood Watch Council I am upbeat about, that are really exciting,” he said. “We have mobilised well into New Providence with over 70 councils and the numbers are growing. In Grand Bahama the numbers are in double digits.”
The incident of a man who was found shot dead outside an abandoned building in Stapledon Gardens on December 21 has not been classified as a murder, Chief Superintendent Solomon Cash told The Nassau Guardian recently. It had previously been reported this killing pushed the murder count to 91 for the year. Police have suggested the deceased in this matter was the aggressor and may have been killed in self-defence.