NATIONAL Security Minister Marvin Dames.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
AFTER three tourists were filmed jumping a fence to get to Cabbage Beach, National Security Minister Marvin Dames maintained yesterday that anyone found in breach of the COVID-19 emergency orders will suffer the consequences. This also applies to tourists, he said.
Three women from the United States were seen jumping a locked fence at the entrance of Cabbage Beach on Paradise Island on Friday. The Boston women told a man who recorded them, and later posted the video to social media, that they travelled to The Bahamas for the beach and were not deterred by beach closures in New Providence for the holiday weekend.
On Saturday, the Royal Bahamas Police Force said it “had no reports of people on the beaches” during Independence Day celebrations.
However, photos of the women scaling the fence spread on Facebook and were shown on a local news broadcast, sparking public outrage over why the women were not arrested for breaching the COVID-19 emergency orders while residents have faced harsh penalties for similar offences.
When asked about the issue yesterday, the minister replied: “... The greatest tool to any police organisation is the community and you demonstrated that in calling the police a few days ago. I would hope that they would’ve responded to your call for their service.
“…The law is for everyone and when you’re in breach of it, there ought to be consequences.”
Noting police cannot be everywhere, the minister also said officials are working to beef up manpower on the streets to ensure everyone is complying with the orders issued by the Prime Minister to contain the spread of COVID-19.
He said: “Again, there is increased presence and you will continue to see an even greater presence as we move forward and as we move into this new normal but, as I said before, police can’t be on every street and corner and police can’t be on every stretch of beach, but we’re working to rectify that.”
Asked if police had enough men to send to Grand Bahama in the event that a lockdown were to occur on the island, Mr Dames replied that officials have a plan in place, adding the public can expect to see some changes shortly. His comments comes as the island continues to see a rising number of COVID-19 cases.
“Listen, we don’t sleep. Our Cabinet doesn’t sleep. Our Prime Minister doesn’t sleep, we have to develop a new normal moving forward,” the Mount Moriah MP said.
“We can’t stay on lockdown forever and COVID is not going away today or tomorrow and so we have to plan accordingly.
“As a Cabinet, we have been doing that and it’s not a week that doesn’t go by that we’re not spending an inordinate amount of time on this problem and how do we address it moving forward.
“I think you will hear some more things as the Prime Minister continues to update the public. But we have already taken care of that and very shortly, you will see some changes.”
Yesterday, Mr Dames also addressed concerns about police conduct after a Royal Bahamas Defence Force officer was among several people arrested last week, accused of drug possession.
Saying it’s “never a good reflection” when members of law enforcement are arrested, Mr Dames was adamant that any officer found not obeying the law will be held accountable.
“It’s never a good thing when a member of the law or a person in law enforcement is arrested for any crime. It’s never a good reflection,” he said.
“After having said that, I think it’s a clear demonstration too that our good officers be it police, defence (force) or the Bahamas Department of Corrections, customs and immigration are not afraid to arrest their own when they are in breach of the law.
“And that’s how it ought to be. We are not here to condone the actions of any officer in violation of the law. If you are in violation of the law, there is a price to be paid. No one is above the law and that’s our stance and we will continue to move in that direction.”