Minister of National Security Marvin Dames.
By RIEL MAJOR
NATIONAL Security Minister Marvin Dames said testing on the Mandatory Action Rescuing Children Operation (MARCO) Alert system is completed and the proposal will be submitted to Cabinet for approval very shortly.
Mr Dames told reporters at police headquarters on Thursday that he hopes in the coming months the alert system will become a reality.
“We have just concluded our testing of the MARCO Alert System and so the testing was done to ensure that we address all of the issues with the system itself, he said. “Now that we have completed that phase; we’ve been working with the company to make the necessary corrections and adjustments. We are now at the phase where they are putting together a proposal and so that proposal is just about prepared.”
Asked pointedly if the completion of the alert system was taking too long, Mr Dames said: “No, it’s a process.
“Remember we had to run our test. We can’t just go out and acquire something without testing it and ensuring that it meets the needs of what it is we are seeking to do. When you are spending people’s money you must do that with a high degree of responsibility…so we take that very seriously.
“We always go through the proper testing to ensure at the end of the day when we spend the Bahamian people’s money. We’re making wise and prudent decisions. Decisions that will not come back to haunt us tomorrow.”
Last July, Minister Dames announced the launch of the Minnis administration’s version of the MARCO Alert.
He made this announcement during a press conference at the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s headquarters, telling those gathered it was at that point in the pilot phase. It was intended to act as the first step in a series of moves intended to stifle sex crimes across the country.
At the time Mr Dames said the revamped version of the alert flowed directly from the original 2013 initiative, adding features which allowed the alert to stand “in line” with the Minnis administration’s effort to fully enact Marco’s Law and establish a sex offender’s registry.
“As a government, we are committed to that cause,” he said during that press conference in July last year.
Unlike the original alert, which was almost exclusively tied to traditional forms of media, the new alert system will operate via a web-based platform which allows for broad dissemination across any phone, pagers, emails, internet pop ups, fax, loud speakers, RSS feeds and secure encrypted messages through mobile applications and radio.
The alert will feature crime, weather and traffic updates and various community notifications.
The new alert also features two unique protocols.
The first operates along the lines of closed-circuit communication. Via this version, specific units – police teams, neighbourhood watch groups or select communities – will receive all notices being disseminated related to any ongoing matter.
As a part of protocol two, notices will be disseminated across all platforms to everyone signed up for the alert.
Additionally, its platform designers Multimedia Technology noted at the time that the system is equipped with a feature that will allow for any alert to be sent to all electronic devices nationwide, regardless of whether or not that device applied for the service.
According to the design team, the feature can only be used if authorised by the national security minister or commissioner of police.