By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
DESPITE recent high profile crimes, National Security Minister Marvin Dames was yesterday resolute in his view that the country is “in a much better place” when compared with two years ago.
His comments came on the sidelines of a Caribbean Financial Action Task Force ceremony at Police Headquarters, where he told reporters Bahamians and tourists alike feel safer.
He was responding to concerns raised over the recent sex assault on a tourist at a Paradise Island beach, and the brazen ‘smash and grab’ robbery at the Baha Mar location of John Bull on Sunday.
“They’re incidents, we are investigating them. And you know, crime is — we are in a much better place today than we were two years ago, by far,” he told reporters. “But after having said that, we have to continue pushing and these are the things that every [person], each and every one of us have a vested responsibility to ensure that we safeguard this country.”
Addressing the Baha Mar incident directly, Mr Dames said police were advancing in their investigations and he hoped the matter would be brought to a closure soon. Referring to the occurrence as unfortunate, he said: “The thing is here, this incident took place on a property, in the Baha Mar itself, you know, you’re not going to prevent all of these things.”
He added: “Listen, never said we were going to do away completely with crime. There is no country that can boast about not having any incidents reported. But the point I am making here is, we are headed in the right direction.
“All of the signs show that we are, and we will continue to do what we need to do to ensure that we keep Bahamians and visitors alike, safe.”
On the alleged sexual assault, he further stated: “I was also updated by the police, I believe someone is in custody and assisting the police. We continue to work on these matters.”
These incidents came after a Cuban-American businessman was shot dead at his Bimini home on Sunday, April 28.
Notwithstanding its best efforts, the Bahamas has long grappled with unflattering travel advisories due to incidents involving tourists.
After a US State Department crime advisory was issued earlier this year, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis during a multilateral meeting with US President Donald Trump in March, raised issue about the warnings.
Dr Minnis at the time insisted the advisories should be used to raise awareness and not initiate fear. He also said he had concerns that the advisories sometimes contained recycled and out of date information.
When asked yesterday what negatives could arise from the two most recent cases, Mr Dames said while he expected some type of reaction, he was more focused on ensuring the overall safety of the general public.
He said: “Well listen, we’re concerned about every crime, all right. When a crime takes place someone is impacted. We’re concerned with crimes against Bahamians and visitors alike. So we don’t separate. Every crime is a concern to us.”
On overall safety, he added: “Well, I mean, you know, I hear it a lot when we walk the streets. Remember now, there was a time when it was almost everyday and you would come in and say, ‘Well gee, I wonder what’s going on, minister what is being done?’
“…Now the questions are being reshaped, they are changing. They’re now, ‘What is it now?’ We have these long quiet periods and you have these few incidents. So even in the questions you are asking, it is changing, all right. So that’s a reflection in of itself, that some positive things are happening.
“Are we there yet? No, I would be the first to tell you, and other members of our government will be the first to tell you that we’re not. While we feel that we are headed in the right direction and all of the indicators in every sector is pointing to that fact, we recognise that we still have a ways to go,” Mr Dames contended.