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Call For Dames To Resign Over Abaco: Fnm Branch Chairman Hits Out Over Island’S ‘Weak Security’

Minister of National Security Marvin Dames on his visit to Abaco and the surrounding Cays.

Minister of National Security Marvin Dames on his visit to Abaco and the surrounding Cays.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

THE chairman of the Free National Movement’s Central and South Abaco constituency branch wants National Security Minister Marvin Dames to resign over the “weak security” on the island.

“The minister of national security needs to answer for this failure,” Victor Patterson complained yesterday. “I have no more patience for him.”

Mr Dames in response told The Tribune he does not have operational control of law enforcement agencies and will not interfere politically with them, especially after satisfying himself that the police commissioner and defence force commodore are ably securing the island. He also said officials intend to increase the number of police vehicles on Abaco. 

He told reporters yesterday evening that as more residents return to Abaco, the number of law enforcement officers there will likely increase beyond the numbers deployed in the wake of the storm.

Mr Patterson believes the government is generally doing a good job responding to the unprecedented destruction wrought by Hurricane Dorian, but added that the political implications for the governing party after the monster storm have generally been negative on the island.

After the Category Five storm battered Abaco, mass looting and scavenging took place. The government eventually deployed more than 900 law enforcement officers to Abaco who were helped by additional foreign officers. However, some residents say crime persists. 

“A worker on a house saw a man stealing tools from that house yesterday,” Mr Patterson said. “He took a picture of the van the man was in. The person whose stuff was stolen went driving around with his cousin until they spotted the van. They tried to call the police and had no luck. They reached out to me and I reached out to the MP (James Albury), and he reached out to the police but had no luck. He spoke to a police woman and she said she could not bring a vehicle to meet them for whatever reason. That is not acceptable. We don’t expect perfection after a disaster like this but this security failure is ongoing, it needs to end and if the minister of national security cannot handle this he needs to resign. I am extremely displeased with his performance and the security situation feels like a betrayal for us. Every other minister and ministry have been falling over themselves to be helpful but I haven’t had any luck with the Ministry of National Security.”

Residents like Mr Patterson want law enforcement to construct checkpoints at entrances to Murphy Town and Dundas Town, ensuring people aren’t transporting stolen items. 

Mr Dames travelled to Abaco with national security officials over the weekend to get a firsthand account of the security situation. Videos he took showed officers patrolling Marsh Harbour at night and neighbouring cays in the day. In one video, police drove through the mainland for some time before encountering a vehicle on the street. In another video, a woman on a cay praised defence force officers for how they conducted their work. 

“We went throughout the entire settlement of Marsh Harbour and the streets were very desolate,” Mr Dames said. “There was no movement on the streets whatsoever and we patrolled for a significant period. I think there was one vehicle stopped along the way and persons gave a justifiable reason for why they were on the streets.

“There may be need to increase the number of people there even further as the recovery and construction begin to intensify so we’re doing daily assessments of that and the commissioner and commodore are doing that...Based on our assessment over the weekend, we feel the police and the defence force have the situation under control.”

For his part, Mr Patterson said generally residents are displeased with the government’s overall response to the storm but said this can be improved with a prudent approach to rebuilding. The FNM won both of Abaco’s seats in the last general election and the constituencies are considered FNM strongholds. 

“There are a lot of very angry people,” Mr Patterson said. “That is hardly up for dispute. The feeling is Abaco has contributed a great deal of revenue to the treasury over the years and now when we need the government, many people, and I’m not one of them, but many people feel the government’s response has not been sufficient. The security failure has caused a lot of the resentment, that’s 80 percent of our problem. But it’s not like anybody here is suddenly in love with the Progressive Liberal Party. No one here is saying ‘if only Perry Christie or Brave Davis were prime minister the situation would be different.’ The feeling is just general disillusionment but there is no doubt the ship can be righted.”

Mr Patterson said despite some concerns, most ministries have been responsive and helpful in his view. “The Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Works, the Ministry of Transportation, all these people have when I got in touch with them been able to flick their fingers and make things happen,” he said. 

Last week, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said he was not happy with the security situation in Abaco, saying that Cabinet would consider implementing a curfew in Abaco. 

“We requested an additional 150 personnel,” he told the Nassau Guardian on Wednesday. “We will again talk to the defence force. We have, I was told, 40, 50 individuals who may have retired. You know they force retirement early, at 55. So we will call all those individuals back so that they can assist with security.

“Cabinet and I, we will have to decide whether…once I survey and have a better understanding of the situation, we will make a determination as to whether we will institute a curfew.

“There is no reason for people to be about moving in the darkness.

“We need extra manpower. We need more personnel, no doubt,” Dr Minnis said last week. 

Comments

TigerB 2 months ago

"Seventy-four percent of the force was stationed in New Providence. Another 18 percent was stationed on Grand Bahama, and eight percent on the Family Islands."

This is the problem... while in live in Grand Bahama, I was born in Spring City , Abaco, but all family islands are neglected. They, as in all governments, never see the need to properly staff them! Same complaint in east End as well. Just One and 2 officers

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John 2 months ago

Marvin Dames is the first amongst the MPs who will not be re-elected even if the FNM was to have a landslide victory in 2022. Firstly there were too many police involved killings under Marvin Dames and the current commission of police. Many of these killings were very questionable and suspicious. And in the instance where a police involved killing victim was clearly innocent, the entire police force (and other parts of the government ) were cold hearted, unremorceful and showed no sympathy for family and loved ones of the victim. And Marvin Dames appears to be running a cream puff Ministry of National Security. Despite getting millions in additional funds and investing in ‘new and proven technology.’ The force can’t seem to get a hold on major crime. Whilst murder was down in one year the numbers seem to be creeping back up. What were the police doing when a suspect attempted to carry out ELEVEN murders in a matter of hours and apparently was successful with four? And even when the number of murders were down, the number of police killings increased so there was basically no decrease in the number of homicides. And then there’s the Potters Cay fiasco where Marvin Dames caused dozens of small businesses into hardship and caused dozens more Bahamians to become unemployed.

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joeblow 2 months ago

This current crisis has exposed how ill prepared all branches of government were despite massive budgets. It also shows that we can no longer afford to allow inexperienced and incompetent people with no problem solving skills to hold high positions. Based on the governments poor response to this situation, if Nassau had been hit by this storm, the Bahamas as we know it would have ceased to exist.

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Sickened 2 months ago

Correct! We need experienced people in charge of ministries not just elected MP's - some of whom cannot even speak a number with a few commas.

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spoitier 2 months ago

These politicians watch the US news and BBC and they see politicians from those country calling for other politicians to resign and sometimes the call is answered, so they say the same thing when it comes to Bahamian politics like it makes any difference. If Marvin Dames didn't resign over the fact that he is mix up in a bribery scheme with a drug dealer, you think he is going to resign over this? Bahamian politician could get caught red handed with the cookie jar and they still wouldn't resign, so stop calling on them to resign because that is a political stunt.

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voiceofthepeople 2 months ago

I wish the people would stop blaming the police for crime . It is the peoples fault , the way the kids are raised , many reasons ; like letting them get their own way with everything , letting them watch what they want on tv or movies, its a whole culture ; some countries in the whole are a lot safer even big cities in Japan less crime, because the way people are raised, so stop blaming the police for the faults of the people!

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Ashinnabash 2 months ago

I don't think they are blaming the police for the crimes. I think it'd be scary to not have police around when you need them.

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geostorm 2 months ago

So true @voiceofthepeople, we have such a lawless society. We have become our own worst enemy! Besides, the police certainly in a situation like the one experienced in Abaco and Grand Bahama, CAN NOT police every single home or business. That's impossible. I do agree with Mr Patterson though, maybe they should set up checkpoints to ensure that those who are guilty of looting will be found and arrested.

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DDK 2 months ago

Quite right, Mr. Patterson. It IS fault of law "enforcement" that many, if not a majority, of hurricane-affected homes in Abaco were vandalized, looted and further destroyed after the passage of Dorian. The plan to do so was actually in place BEFORE the arrival of the hurricane. It has also been widely reported that police and defence force personnel were helping themselves to relief supplies. The vast majority of law enforcement personnel, from the TOP down, are not fit to wear their uniforms or assume their political posts. Dr. Minnis wants to send in the fire brigade long after the entire farm has burned down!

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John 2 months ago

The facts are hurricane survivors were calling for more boots on the ground since day one but Marvin Dames could not respond effectively because just months before the storm he had made the political decision to send most of his top brass of all the armed forces home. So even if he managed to scrap officers to send to ground zero, he didn’t have senior officers to adequately supervise them or fill in for officers who may have been deployed. And the call for retired officers under the retirement age to return to active duty went basically unheeded because of the way these officers were unceremoniously dumped off the force. You cannot kick a dog all through the day and expect to guard and protect you during the night. Marvin Dames was cautioned against his political efforts to rid the forces of their top brass and the dogged way he was publicly dismissing long serving, loyal and decorated officers. And so foreign forces can come in and do their duties while the Bahamas appears a chicken without a head.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 months ago

Our Duckin' N Dodgin' Doc is always more than willing to let anyone but himself take the flack, in this case Marvin Dames. The buck never stops with Minnis - he sees to that. He will even reward Dames for his willingness to take the heat - in Minnis's eyes that shows loyalty.

In the run up to the last general election, Duckin' N Dodgin' Doc conned a majority of voters into believing that if elected and appointed PM he would have broad powers to effect many of the changes so desperately needed by our country, and that it would finally be "the Bahamian people's time." After all, the FNM party had been preaching for decades that "it's time for a change." But we quickly learned after May 2017 that the Duckin' N Dodgin' Doc was not in charge and that as PM he was very much comprised and beholden to those who had financially backed the FNM election campaign that he led.

Since May 2017 our Duckin' N Dodgin' Doc has been doing the bidding of all of the following: (i) the very deep pocketed numbers bosses; (ii) a group of super wealthy individuals living in the exclusive Lyford Cay community; (iii) foreign investors with fat wallets, especially the cruise ship companies like Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Disney; and (iv) Red China that is well known for finding and bribing corrupt government officials to get whatever it wants.

Minnis is so powerless as a puppet PM that he can't even sack our grossly incompetent police commissioner, namely Meat Head Ferguson. Nor can he fire our so very useless commodore of the RBDF. Of course a big part of our country's national security problems is rooted in the fact that way too many of our police and defense force officers today, even at the highest levels, are of Haitian ancestry. Hello Houston, we have a major problem!

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John 2 months ago

The way the government is operating in this hurricane relief and recovery is critical. This is not just a short term exercise but the foreign support will be continuously reduced. And if not sort of rotation of personnel is a introduced, those, at least at the forefront will get burned out.

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birdiestrachan 2 months ago

Dames should have resigned after the Frank Smith case. It will only get worse and they will learn you can not do wrong and get by.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 months ago

And let's not forget that Frank Smith (Snake's son-in-law) did what he did under the PLP government while Chairman of the PHA.

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JackArawak 2 months ago

Several check points on all key roads and intersections would be a low manpower’ high return investment by Dames. Quick deployment. Camping on spot. Small units of Marines could secure the movement of all road traffic. That’s security 101. And that’s the failing Bahamian government in a nutshell.

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proudloudandfnm 2 months ago

Policing and security are two areas the Bahamas has never been capable of. The best thing we can do about securing our country is to outsource it. Our police have no idea what they're doing and never have. There is not one security firm that actually provides security. It's like when it comes to policing and security we are mentally handicapped.....

road blocks and beating suspects, that's all we know....

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joeblow 2 months ago

… so you need more than just random roadblocks and beating suspects into admitting they committed crimes? Who knew!

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Donnaree 2 months ago

I agree a hundred percent, Dames should resign! From day one when he got that position he called the orders over every department of Law enforcement in the Government. He was spiteful and vindictive to those he had personal problems with. And this is what you all call a leader? Poor! Now, just because they didn't tell him how much boots on ground was to be in Abaco he's upset. man, stop being petty and do your job. In addition any high ranking law enforcement official such as you think yourself to be will have ordered more defends force seasoned officers than those young officers that just graduated and has never experienced such disasters in their young life. Don't get me wrong they are our strong young handsome men that was toughly trained to handle anything but for their first experience, most of them was surely unprepared and found themselves doing many different task that was not apart of their portfolio. Even a soldier stated that in all his deployment, in many different country war zones he has never seen anything like what he's seen in Abaco. Dames having Knowledge of the devastation should have ordered additional security for the island especially after most of the inhabitants vacant ed. Focus not only should have been on himself but the homes and people's personal property. The looting started immediately after hurricane. No local law enforcement officers to protect you. Very Bad! And our borders was wide open. No consideration for our national security. Dames stop talking nonsense and get more boots on the ground. The looters don't come in the night they comes in the day where they can see to pass over the broken glass, wires and poles, the debris. I applaud our Defend force officers because I know it wasn't easy. And the conditions you all had to live under was not becoming but it also tells the story to all the world that you all are quite able to meet the challenge and comes out conquerors. A big shout out to you guys and all the other law enforcement axillaries and the FBI, Jamaican Army and our neighbouring caribbean islands We appreciate you!

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