By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday confirmed the contract signing for the implementation of the MARCO Alert system will occur in two weeks. Dr Minnis made this announcement while delivering remarks at the re-opening ceremony of the Rolleville Police Station in Exuma.
The prime minister noted since coming into office, his administration has invested “over $17 million in equipment and technology” for the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
“These crime fighting and security investments include…the implementation of MARCO Alert system to provide a secure and reliable network to disseminate information to the public (at a cost of $3,053,925.28). The contract signing for this will take place in two weeks,” Dr Minnis said.
Other investments include $5.9m on a new fleet of police vehicles; $5.9m for the expansion of closed circuit television; $1.9m for ShotSpotter gunshot detection technology; and $304,000 for “a communications tower to upgrade communications” in New Providence and all the Family Islands.
On Tuesday, National Security Minister Marvin Dames noted the dates have been “set” for the CCTV and MARCO Alert contracts. “I think the dates have already been set for the CCTV contract and the MARCO Alert contracts,” he said at the time. “We are now satisfied with where we are with the contracts - all parties have accepted the contracts to date and it’s just a matter of signing and I think the signing date for both the CCTV and the body cams have been set and we’re working.”
After the murder of 11-year-old Marco Archer in 2011, a law was enacted allowing authorities to send notifications alerting the public to missing children, dubbed the Mandatory Action Rescuing Children Operation (MARCO) Alert. While the system was rolled out by the Christie administration, it is unclear if it was ever used and it was set for an overhaul by the Minnis administration.
In June, Mr Dames said the government has committed $3.05 million over three years for the MARCO alert and a contract has been awarded to Multimedia Technology to facilitate the system.
Mr Dames also said regulations relating to a sexual offender registry, also part of Marco’s law, have been reviewed by Cabinet and will go out to the public for consultation.
“It is expected that a decision is anticipated sometime during the third quarter of this year,” he said in June. “An electronic registration would also need to be established that has the ability to track and monitor convicted sex offenders and has the ability to notify the public of their home addresses and information about their convictions.
“The system will use a combination of biometrics, information technology and tracking technology to monitor in real-time, register/check-in and record all information on sex offenders inclusive of location, photo ID, residences, aliases, offences and so much more. With such a system in place offenders will now be able to re-register periodically and/or check-in using kiosks which will identify them via biometrics. As such, the Ministry of National Security will issue a request for proposal sometime during the third quarter of this year to invite potential vendors to provide a Sexual Offenders’ System Software for the government of The Bahamas.”
A registry was introduced as an amendment in 2013 to the Sexual Offences Act after Archer’s murder by a serial child predator. The previous Christie administration never created the registry and observers have questioned elected officials’ commitment to the registry.
Mr Dames said last year that the government would establish the registry before the end of 2018.
The regulations were tabled in the House of Assembly last month.
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