By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
COMMISSIONER of the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services Charles Murphy has tested positive for COVID-19.
National Security Minister Marvin Dames made the revelation during his ministry’s press conference yesterday, where he also provided statistical data on COVID’s impact on the law enforcement agencies.
In the agencies, Mr Dames said 354 workers have tested positive for the virus to date, with nearly 700 placed in quarantine. There has also been one COVID-19 related death recorded, he added, which is attached to the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
Of the confirmed cases, the RBPF accounts for 165, inclusive of officers and civilian staff, while the Royal Bahamas Defence Force accounts for 183.
Meanwhile at BDCS, Mr Dames said there have been two confirmed cases recorded among inmates.
This comes after Commissioner Murphy told The Tribune on September 20 that he had no reports of inmates testing positive for the virus at the time as he hit out at concerns from correctional officers about their safety at the facility.
However, yesterday, Mr Dames clarified that the first case was confirmed in August, adding the second was confirmed a month later.
“The initial case was recorded in August, five months after the first case was recorded in The Bahamas. The inmate contracted the virus while receiving medical care for an unrelated illness outside of the prison. The second reported case of a male inmate testing positive only occurred on September 23,” Mr Dames said.
As it relates to Mr Murphy’s COVID status, the minister noted that his contraction of the virus was not connected to the prison.
“The commissioner of corrections…unfortunately was contact traced last week on a matter not related to the prison and he immediately went to get tested and got his results back today,” he said.
“I spoke to him. He is positive unfortunately but is asymptomatic. He is in good spirits. We spoke at length and so we continue to pray for him and his family.”
Despite COVID-19’s impact on the armed forces, the minister said law enforcement agencies continue to carry out their duties as he commended them for their service in protecting the public.
According to Mr Dames, crime is on the decline in the country.
“…Crime is once trending downward by ten percent compared to last year this time; recidivism has been reduced to 14 percent and if the trend continues, it will reflect a two percentage points decrease from last year when it stood at 16 percent,” he said.
“Meanwhile, illegal poaching and drug smuggling interdictions are up to six interceptions and 884 lbs respectively.”
His comments were echoed by Police Commissioner Paul Rolle yesterday, who said during the period of January through the end of September, crime fell by about nine percent compared to the same period last year.
The police chief said crime statistics also show that murders decreased by 29 percent and armed robberies by 40 percent. House breakings also decreased by 26 per cent, he added.
As it relates to COVID-19 breaches, Commissioner Rolle said, “Overall there have been 645 breaches to the emergency orders (and) 45 breaches to the Liquor License Act.”
He said 1,770 people have been arrested for curfew violations since the prime minister’s COVID-19 orders were implemented in March.
Speaking on behalf of the RDBF, Commodore Raymond King added: “Statistics for illegal fishing represent a 50 percent increase to date for 2020 due to increased vessel patrols, enhanced surveillance missions, multilayered strategy posture; and collaborative efforts with local and regional partners.
“Conversely, statistics for migrant smuggling represent a 30 percent decline in migrant interdictions due to organisation’s multilayered strategic posture among other operational tactics.”