By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
PINERIDGE MP Rev Frederick McAlpine has expressed concern over the "substandard" living conditions of police officers on Grand Bahama, calling for improved conditions at the police housing compound in Freeport.
He complained that the homes the officers are living in at Tripp Circle are unacceptable, and described it as a miniature "ghetto".
Mr McAlpine noted that the facility, which is in the Pineridge constituency, does not fare well for officers' morale.
"The conditions that our officers are living in the homes are deplorable," he said. "Sad to say, the living conditions that our officers are subjected to is substandard. We need to find a way to improve living conditions for our police officers on the island. Their area alone is a ghetto all by itself. This should not be for our officers who serve and protect."
Commenting on the new fire station in the constituency, the MP said the absence of furniture is prolonging the opening even though the facility was completed almost two years ago by the former Christie administration.
"Hopefully, the furniture will come from heaven shortly. The fire station, again located in Pineridge, is a first-class model that any officer would be more than happy to work from," he said in a recent speech to Parliament.
He said the nation is still waiting on the widespread installation of CCTV cameras to help capture criminals and deter crime.
The MP also highlighted an issue concerning the public outcry over a recent police shooting that resulted in the death of a young man in Nassau. He said answers are needed.
"One thing is certain in my mind, like many Bahamians, whatever the alleged crime, the death of the young man by police officers is considered overkill, causing an outcry naturally.
"The country needs answers and awaits a report on this matter sooner rather than later," he stated.
Rev McAlpine believes that the deployment of body-cams for police officers would help to avoid future speculation and fallout between the police force and the community. The project was launched in the test pilot phase several months ago.
The outspoken MP also addressed issues related to the industrial sector in Grand Bahama concerning the difference in the employment of Bahamians and foreigners.
He reported that one industrial company that has been in operation for the past 18 years in Grand Bahama employs thousands of workers - with a workforce ratio of 30 percent Bahamian and 70 percent foreign.
"Government has a responsibility to the people of Grand Bahama to see to it that more training is given and made available for the good of our people, in conjunction with the partnering of these industries.
"I comprehend what we are doing, and I commend the government for its subvention with BTVI, but we must find out what these industrial companies need and bring in the persons that can technically train and certify our people to do the tasks at hand for the workforce," he said.
He stressed that one of the responsibilities of the major industrial companies should be to expose Bahamian workers to relevant, specialised training, to enable them to become certified maintenance workers, technicians, supervisors, and managers.
"Whereas it's accepted that some jobs require the attention of highly skilled professionals in particular areas, the industrial community must make a greater effort to limit the number of import workers," the MP said.
"Many workers are also discouraged by their belief that, in some cases, qualified Bahamians are overlooked in favour of foreign labour."
Mr McAlpine said that the relevant authorities must monitor the situation very closely.