Marvin Dames, Minister of National Security.
NATIONAL Security Minister Marvin Dames is urging Bahamians to not confront police when approached by officers during the country’s lockdown.
He said the social distancing measures are not to harm, but to keep Bahamians safe from the deadly COVID-19 threat.
“At the end of the day, if we’re going to succeed here - and you hear it a lot from the Prime Minister during his press briefings - if we’re going to succeed, it’s going to require each and every Bahamian to understand their role,” he told reporters outside Cabinet yesterday.
“Yes, I would’ve seen one or two of those video clips as well but you know these are very tense times and the thing is you’re not to try and create a confrontation…This is not about having a confrontation with the police, this is about taking measures to keep yourself safe and to keep your families safe.”
His comments came after several videos surfaced on social media earlier this week, showing angry confrontations between officers and locals after Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis ordered on Friday the weekend shutdown of all services in the country.
Speaking on the matter to reporters, Mr Dames said while most Bahamians appeared to be adhering to the Prime Minister’s guidelines, there will always be individuals who wish to challenge law enforcement.
He said: “You were able to drive on just about any street and you couldn’t find a single vehicle. I believe that there was some drone coverage during the lockdown period and the streets were completely cleared so for the most part, Bahamians are adhering to the order.
“Yes, you’re going to find some pockets or some individuals who will challenge the authority (but) the police know exactly how to handle that and they’ve been handling it.
“So, we’re confident that our men and women are doing what’s required of them and we’re proud of the work they’re doing.”
As of 9pm on Wednesday, a five-day nationwide lockdown is set to begin as the country fights the novel coronavirus.
Speaking in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, Dr Minnis said such strong measures were needed because some people did not listen to warnings to take the COVID-19 threat seriously.
Asked yesterday if armed forces had sufficient resources to enforce the upcoming five-day lockdown, the minister said yes.
He was also asked whether officials would consider implementing special curfews in crime hotspots within the capital to put a crackdown on criminal activities.
However, he replied: “We all sit and wait on the Prime Minister, but I don’t think that’s necessary at this time. We’re focusing on this pandemic and as a government led by our Prime Minister, we are putting all of our efforts into this. Hence the reason why you are seeing the curfews.
“We have to do whatever we can to ensure that Bahamians and residents alike are safe.”
Mr Dames also responded to reports saying there were more defence force officers on the streets of Nassau than police due to some officers calling in sick.
“We have both agencies that are giving their utmost and I can tell you from what I see, and I make it my business to move throughout this island just to encourage our men and women in uniform because this is not an easy task,” he said.
“. . .I mean persons report (being) sick, that’s nothing new. But that’s not impacting on the human resources of the Royal Bahamas Police Force.”