By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE ShotSpotter gunshot detection system has detected over 1,000 gunshots to date, thus improving police response time, National Security Minister Marvin Dames said yesterday.
Mr Dames said over 1,200 gunshots have been detected as a result of the gunfire location system. One of those incidents, Mr Dames said, involved a man who had robbed a woman at gunpoint and had decided to “fire a few shots”. That alerted the police, who, upon their arrival at the scene ended up killing the suspect.
In addition to that incident, and contrary to earlier criticism by the opposition party, Mr Dames said the ShotSpotter system has provided officers with a “greater chance” of identifying perpetrators and getting medical care to victims.
He said the system is assisting the RBPF’s crime analysts with identifying new hot spots for gun activity, inclusive of the time and day of the week, thus allowing police commanders to “shift their resources accordingly”.
Mr Dames added that by the end of this month, the government will sign a contract worth $6,963,853 with a “global industry leader” to provide the RBPF with body and dash cameras.
That comes after the government signed a $5.9m contract with Proficient Business Services for an additional 507 cameras to further expand the government’s closed-circuit television system last October.
Of that number, 100 cameras will be equipped with licence plate recognition capabilities, and another will feature facial recognition capabilities, Mr Dames said. Another 120 will have pan tilt zone capabilities.
It also came after the government signed a $17m contract with the California-based Swift Systems for a multi-agency drone programme. Mr Dames said that technology will be used to combat crime, as well as migrant, drug and firearm smuggling.
Mr Dames also announced that the government is “exploring” the implementation of tasers to “add to the use of force options” available to police officers. He said law enforcement officials will meet with officials from the Axon company this month to determine the viability of tasers in the Bahamas.
Mr Dames explained that all of those technological advancements will be centralised in a new “real time crime centre” that will provide field officers as well as detectives “instant information” that will allow them to identify patterns and prevent emerging crime trends. Mr Dames said the crime centre is currently under construction at Police Headquarters, and will be completed within the first quarter of this year.
Mr Dames also revealed that the second phase of the expansion of the RBPF’s fleet of vehicles is “just about complete”, as the 35 new police cruisers, SUVs, T-3 Segways and ATV’s will be hitting the streets across the Bahamas within the first quarter of this year.
“As you can see, policing in 2020 and beyond will not be business as usual,” Mr Dames said. “Guided by the Manpower Audit, the (RBPF) is being modernised and restructured.
“In 2020 and beyond, technology will play a vital role in further reducing the level of crime. Investments in the latest and greatest police technology and equipment have been ongoing and are another key component in supporting the professionalization of our armed forces.”
Last year, the government signed a $1.9m contract with a technology provider, ShotSpotter in an effort for law enforcement agencies to pinpoint the location of gunfire.
Both Mr Dames and Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said the new programme highlighted their commitment to modernising crime fighting tools and equipping agencies with the latest technologies.
The technology, implemented in undisclosed areas across New Providence, is strategically placed “outside, in open areas, above the roadways, above ambient noise,” according to ShotSpotter senior project manager Kent McIntire.
At the time, Mr Dames said he had “completed sufficient research” and is satisfied the technology will help reduce the high gun related violence in The Bahamas.
In July 2019, Progressive Liberal Party Leader Phillip “Brave” Davis criticised the government’s investment in the system following a mass shooting in the Montel Heights community.
At the time, Mr Davis said the system was a bad investment, and questioned how ShotSpotter aided in preventing “that horrific event” from happening. Mr Davis further stated that the government ought to have invested in “prevention rather than detection”.