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Marco Alert In Line For Mid-Year Rollout

Minister of National Security Marvin Dames.

Minister of National Security Marvin Dames.

By MORGAN ADDERLEY

Tribune Staff Reporter

madderley@tribunemedia.net

NATIONAL Security Minister Marvin Dames yesterday said testing on the Marco Alert software is complete, with the rollout of the system expected to occur before mid-year. 

Mr Dames made these remarks as he addressed the status of the investigation into the kidnapping of three-year-old Shavar Bain Jr. Mr Dames said there have been no updates in the investigation but noted this is a “priority matter” for police.

“We would have, as you know, during the end of last year we were running some testing on the Marco’s Alert software,” he said. “And I’m happy to report now that we would have completed that and there are a number of, certainly part of running the testing was to determine the usefulness of it and any issues related to the operations of it that we were able to identify and have the company responsible address those concerns. 

“And so those concerns after the testing were reported back to the company and they were able to address those concerns, now they’re in the process of putting together a proposal and we should be submitting that proposal to Cabinet in short order.

 “In addition to the regulations, we would have completed our review of the draft regulations and we have a Cabinet paper on those regulations so they should be submitted to Cabinet within the next few weeks and so we’re on schedule certainly to have all of those rolled out before mid-year.”

Shavar was taken while he rode a bicycle outside his South Beach Estates home shortly before 6pm Saturday. Police said a witness to the brazen kidnapping said he saw the toddler taken off his bicycle by two women, who put him in their silver coloured car and sped away from the scene.

Shortly after 7am Sunday - roughly 13 hours later - the child was dropped off outside a Sunrise Washhouse on Fox Hill and Joe Farrington roads. 

The police’s handling of the kidnapping incident was also called into question as media inquiries about the matter went unanswered for hours, all while the child’s photograph went viral on social media. 

This sparked questions about the functionality of the Mandatory Action Rescuing Children Operation (MARCO) Alert, which was relaunched last July and raised concerns about the handling of missing children’s reports.

Mr Dames also addressed claims that Shavar’s father, Shavar Bain Sr, was brutalised by police, pointing to Police Commissioner Anthony Ferguson’s pledge the matter would be fully investigated.

He underscored the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s commitment to transparency, adding the police force was currently operating at the “highest level of transparency”.

The national security minister also denied saying the incident was a domestic matter — a comment which drew the ire of the boy’s mother. 

“I did not say that it was a domestic matter,” Mr Dames insisted. “I said that the officers said that they were following some leads along the domestic line – never did I say that it was a domestic matter. 

 On Sunday, Mr Dames told The Tribune: “The police were on top of that from yesterday (Saturday) and it seems that that matter was, from the investigation so far, that there may be some domestic connection with that. It doesn’t appear from their investigations thus far that it’s something where the child was picked up randomly by someone.”

On Wednesday, police issued a sketch of a woman believed to be responsible for the abduction of little Shavar.

However, yesterday Mr Dames said that as yet there are no updates in the investigation. 

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