By Malcolm Strachan
ARE we hard to please as a people? For the last few years, the cries have been similar: What is the government going to do to stop the scourge of crime? How are we going to be made to feel safe again in our communities?
Now, all of a sudden, it seems people are finding their religion because a few criminals were shot and killed by members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force. The Minister of Security and Commissioner of Police are being questioned about excessive force by police officers.
One has to wonder if some in our society are just hardwired to complain and would do so regardless of what is done on their behalf. However, the debate that ensued after the sixth police-involved-shooting took place last week seems trivial at best.
For a moment, imagine being one of these police officers that wake up every day and leave their families, not knowing if they will return home. Officers of the Royal Bahamas police force face this reality every day.
With the savage nature of our criminal prototype – who has no regard for woman, children, senior citizen or family – you would hardly wish to think of being face-to-face with the everyday possibilities had that been your job. We have a hard enough time trying to protect our own. Imagine if we had to protect and serve communities, notwithstanding our own needs for self-preservation.
It is very hard work that is too often underestimated and taken for granted.
Nonetheless, last week’s debate was a much-needed break from the previous week’s nonsensical discussions of Parliament playground fighting, and at least in part, related to a hot button issue which we can all sink our teeth into – fighting crime.
Certainly, Commissioner Ferguson could not hold back his confusion over what all the fuss was about when he was pressed for his comments on the matter of officers killing suspects. His sentiments were clear – better to have six less criminals than one slain innocent Bahamian.
We would be deluded to think that criminals labelled “armed and dangerous” are willingly going to be apprehended when confronted by police. Realistically, that is not today’s version of the criminal element.
Of course, we do not welcome an environment for police officers to patrol our communities laying a brand of street justice that doesn’t abide with our laws. However, this is serious business, and once they are doing their duties within the parameters set forth in law, they deserve our fervent support.
Article 103, sections one and two, of the Penal Code, outlines such parameter whereby police can use deadly force.
“Any person may, with or without warrant or other legal process, arrest and detain another person who has committed a felony, and may, if the other person, having notice or believing that he is accused of felony, avoids arrest by resistance or flight or escapes or endeavours to escape from custody, use any force which is necessary for his arrest, detention or recapture, and may kill him, if he cannot by any means otherwise be arrested, detained or re-taken,” the Penal Code states.
“Whoever is duly authorised by warrant or other legal process to arrest or detain a person for felony may, if that person has notice or believes that a warrant or other legal process is in force against him, justify any force which is necessary for his arrest, detention or recapture, and may kill him, if he cannot by any means otherwise be arrested, detained or re-taken, although in fact the felony has not been committed by the other person, or although in fact no felony has been committed.”
As far as we are concerned, it is fine time that the criminals have something to fear while they wage their bloodthirsty war on our streets. Everyone knows that jail is a taxpayer’s all-expenses paid vacation for these thugs, and I, for one, sleep much safer at night knowing that good police work makes a murderous bandit sleep with one eye open.
However, we hope that the Bahamian populace is inclined to reflect on history.
Crime has been an issue that two successive governments arguably changed as a result of what the public perceived as a lack of action.
Now, that we can see intel being transformed into results, the police need our support and cooperation – not our conspiracy theories.
Continue to protect and serve this nation.