By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
NATIONAL Security Minister Wayne Munroe confirmed that police officers have returned to public schools, nearly a week after concerns were reignited about school safety following last week’s stabbing at AF Adderley Junior High.
According to officials, several officers were assigned to nine different public schools in New Providence on Monday in view of the incident.
Among them are AF Adderley Junior High, CH Reeves Junior High, Government High School, RM Bailey Senior High, CC Sweeting Senior High, CV Bethel Senior High School and Doris Johnson Senior High.
Mr Munroe said two other schools are expected to have police presence very soon. He added the initiative is “intelligence driven.”
This comes after a student was stabbed at AF Adderley last week in what officials believe may have been a gang related attack. A 13-year-old boy has since been charged in connection with the incident.
Yesterday, Education Minister Glenys Hanna Martin described the return of officers to schools as a necessary effort to strengthen campus safety and help stem the rise of violence among teens.
She said her ministry is committed to ensure that Bahamian children remain safe and also revealed plans to incorporate anger management classes in the new curriculum for next year.
“We have to appreciate that these young people have been out of the loop for two years,” Mrs Hanna Martin said before going to a Cabinet meeting. “Many have not been in school at all. Some have been on the streets; some have been cooped up for extended periods of time so we’re not dealing with a normal environment for these people.
“I mean they’re coming back now to a socialised environment, but they have been in an abnormal situation for two years. This has had a negative impact and we are going to steadily work it through until we bring about some level of regularity in their lives and the lives of the Bahamian people.”
The introduction of police on school campuses is not a new move.
In 2003, the Progressive Liberal Party formed the School Policing Unit that involved strategically placing police officers in the public schools. In 2007, under the new FNM government, the programme was stopped and cancelled.
However, it was eventually replaced with a community policing approach that stationed officers outside schools during the peak hours of 7am to 9am and 3pm to 5pm.
The Christie administration later reinstated the programme when it assumed office in 2012.
Yesterday Mr Munroe said it is his hope that the initiative will help others adopt better conflict management skills.
“We want the citizenry to have an attitude that if something happens, you don’t take the law into your own hands, but you give it to the police so how better to inculcate that into persons and it starts with students and the police are on campus if you have an issue, you can access them,” he said.
Concerns about increased violence among children comes as the country grapples with a rise of homicides and violent crime.
According to this newspaper’s records, 35 murders have been recorded so far for the first three months of this year.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis called an urgent conclave with key stakeholders to address the nation’s escalating crime rate. He said more details about the government’s plan will be released soon.
However, the Free National Movement has questioned the Davis administration’s plan to arrest crime.
FNM leader Michael Pintard said he is of the view that the government should have already been prepared to present Bahamians with immediate, short term and long-term goals for crime fighting.
Mr Munroe pushed back at Mr Pintard’s statements yesterday and questioned the opposition’s sincerity in wanting to be bipartisan in discussions of national concern.
“As I mentioned in the House, I am sceptical of the opposition’s sincerity in wanting to be bipartisan and they’re disingenuous in a lot of what they do so you come to a meeting with proposals, and you have not even been briefed as to what the problem is. That is like a doctor treating you without examining you,” the minister told reporters yesterday.
“And so, the prime minister may be of a different view, but I see their efforts as cynical and disingenuous. We had a briefing where the police were quite blunt with us about what was happening, the steps that could be taken.
“Deputy Commissioner (Clayton) Fernander indicated that he’s putting together the same team that he led to reduce murders to under 100 before he was sidelined if you remember – and he is putting together a team and they’re targeting the gangs and people on bail and they’re targeting the drug shops and it’s quite clear at the meeting that they introduce saturation patrols into the hotspots.”