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INSIGHT: Murder rate soaring - so what will we do?

THE SCENE of Friday’s shooting.
Photo: Leandra Rolle

THE SCENE of Friday’s shooting. Photo: Leandra Rolle

By MALCOLM STRACHAN

I’LL be honest – I don’t really understand what the government’s strategy is when it comes to tackling crime.

As I write this, the murder count stands, sadly, at 115. The latest murder was a man shot dead in his car at Palm Breeze Drive on Friday afternoon.

Police told reporters that soon after 2pm, people in the neighbourhood heard gunshots. When they came out to investigate, there was a car in the middle of the street, with the victim inside, bleeding from a bullet wound to his upper body.

This comes just two days after a shooting in Andros that left a German man dead and another seriously injured.

Two days before that, a woman was shot dead after receiving a phone call to come outside of her home.

And last weekend, three more people were shot dead.

I have little to no faith that by the time this article goes to press there won’t have been another fatal shooting, or another.

Last year’s murder count was 119, and with nearly two full months to go until the end of the year, it looks, quite simply, like things are getting worse, not better.

So what are we doing about it?

Back in August, Police Commissioner Clayton Fernander invited ridicule on himself when, with the murder count at 85, he expected that police “will be able to finish the year strong. Still under 100”.

He said that despite noting that murders at the time were up 21 percent on last year – which as we know finished with a total of 119. So with murders not far off the total of 100 and the murder rate higher than the previous year, it never seemed likely we would keep below that tally of 100.

Prior to that, Mr Fernander had announced a number of strategies to tackle gun violence, including establishing an anti-gang and firearms unit. If that was key to hitting the target of no more than 100 murders, then it’s not working out so far. We could do with an update on that unit and its work.

He also said that officials were reviewing the intelligence unit to restructure its approach to the issue. Again, results show that the dial isn’t moving far enough the other way yet for such measures to be judged effective.

The commissioner does not of course operate in a vacuum – so what about the Minister of National Security, Wayne Munroe?

Well, one of the initiatives coming out from his side of things is the “violence interrupter” initiative, involving such people as Pastor Carlos Reid and Rodney Moncur. At last report, despite being announced back in April, that scheme still wasn’t up and running – and last week Mr Munroe was quibbling over the description of Mr Moncur as a consultant, saying there was only one consultant, Dr Reid, when it was the Office of the Prime Minister who called Mr Moncur a consultant in the first place.

Quibbling over a name while Rome burns seems to be a strange thing to do. I don’t care – and I’m sure most people don’t care – what job title anyone is given, more what they have been doing if they’ve been on the government payroll since April and the scheme they were recruited for hasn’t started yet.

Mr Munroe also criticised the Director of Public Prosecutions for the management of that department, saying there was a lack of satisfaction with its actions and highlighting the DPP’s absence in certain murder cases. The DPP noted that he has actually been on seven months of holiday leave – and there lies a story that needs to be probed a little more fully. In the middle of a crime wave and the DPP takes a seven month holiday? What’s going on there?

Of course there might be problems with managing a department if the top executive is on holiday for seven months.

Aside from that, Mr Munroe criticised former Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis for ending social programmes targeted towards youth, and said “the reality is that you’ve had an uptick in crime everywhere, after the lockdowns. The lockdown was psychologically brutal and so all over the world, you’ve seen it”. Pointing the finger to say look, it’s happening everywhere seems somewhat defeatist. Are we just to shrug and say oh well, we’ll just accept it then?

Except somewhere in that plan, the head of the police thought that what we were doing would keep the murder total down to 100.

So whatever we’re doing, we expected it to do better. Whatever we are doing, it isn’t working.

There’s been talk of saturation patrols, but any Bahamian has heard that talk for a long time. That always seemed to be the thing police would say they were doing after any crime spike. Saturation patrols, and out they would go, and overtime would spike, and we’d still see the murder count rising.

There’s been talk of us being in the middle of a gang war, and there’s been talk of a high number of deaths being of people out on bail.

To the former, why now? We’ve had gangs forever in The Bahamas, so why is it more deadly now?

To the latter, well, some of those out on bail are facing charges in crimes from five, six, more years ago – you couldn’t keep a potentially innocent person in jail for that length of time, so what we need is a faster justice system.

When you say someone shot while out on bail, you imagine a score being settled with someone who has just left the court on bail, but the reality is some of these people have been out on bail for years. The fact of being out on bail may be incidental to the actual reason they are being shot.

All of that still doesn’t tell us how we’re going to solve this. And neither the minister nor the commissioner seems in a rush to reassure us.

No one should want to see any administration fail when it comes to dealing with crime. Such a failure means more of our Bahamian brothers and sisters lying dead in the street. We should all want them to succeed.

Right now, we’re not seeing that – and we don’t know how they plan to do so.

Comments

SP 2 months, 3 weeks ago

The government’s strategy has not changed for decades and is quite simple, straightforward, and fully understandable.

In a nutshell, the strategy is and always has been...Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!

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bahamianson 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Call commissioner and Rodney. They both were supposed to have the solution. Ask the plp, they brought both in.

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Godson 2 months, 3 weeks ago

MALCOLM STRACHAN you asked the question "what will we do?".

And you went on to state "So whatever we’re doing, we expected it to do better. Whatever we are doing, it isn’t working".

You also said, "All of that still doesn’t tell us how we’re going to solve this".

Then you assert "No one should want to see any administration fail when it comes to dealing with crime".

Malcolm Strachan, have you ever heard of the saying "fattening frog for other people's snake"? This may mean one thing to most but what it means to me is, why should I do the work and others get the recognition?

Back to your question "what will we do?". Brace yourself for more Malcolm because it will get worst before it gets better. Why? Because the very persons, like myself, Godson Johnson, AKA Nicodemus, who can and had hoped to make a positive difference, have been ostracized, alienated, and rejected by this and other government administrations from serving the people of The Bahamas.

My answer to your question then is that the people of The Bahamas need to decide whether they want a government leader, or, a government for that fact, that is more interested in global climate change than in the fact of "more of our Bahamian brothers and sisters lying dead in the street".

The answer and people to address all of the social ills that affect The Bahamas are in The Bahamas. The people need to stop being so gullible to the political exploits of the two governing parties, the PLP and FNM.

I recognize that there seems not to be any viable alternative to govern this Country; but if we reflect, we would recall that it has always been an independently elected candidate, who came along and reshaped the political landscape and direction of our Country for the good. In any event, one thing is for certain, the PLP and FNM have finished the end of the course as to any vision, insight, and ability to lead this Country out of this drudgery of murders. Instead, they run off to tackle global climate change.

That is what I call a psychological escape from one's responsibility. They are in over their heads and are winging it for their own benefit.

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Porcupine 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Why do we keep talking about politics? As if, the politicians are bright enough to have a clue. Our politicians are clueless, right along with those who elect them. Further, this is a societal failure over two generations in the making. Apparently, we have no mirrors in this country. Given the lip service we pay to all the other personal and institutional failures we have, we can expect the same results. Failure again, while telling everyone how great we are.

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Godson 2 months, 3 weeks ago

We keep talking about politics because it is by the instrument of the office of elected officials that changes are and can be made in our educational system, as well as, our justice system. So politics is key and it is the people who exercise their democratic voting rights to elect such officials into office. As it is said, the people get what they deserve. And yes, our politicians are clueless. And as you imply, we have a case of the 'blind leading the blind'. To conclude, that is why it has to get worst before it gets better. It seems that we must hit rock bottom absolutely for these false and delusional prophets to admit they don't have the answer. By then, they will reach out for foreign help, which I am against. The solution is right among us. We just have to begin respecting those in whom the talents and vision reside.

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Porcupine 2 months, 2 weeks ago

We need 25 years, if we started now, to educate and raise decent human beings. These horrid statistics don't fall out of the sky. So long as our country remains in the grasp of superstition, ignorance and a false religion, we will continue to elect those who are like, well, like those we continue to vote into power. The prevailing, yet proud, ignorance on display here, throughout our archipelago,, is at the root of all our problems. Politics is merely an adjunct to the foolishness, machismo, and lack of education we seem proud of.

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Godson 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I agree it is going to take some time, however, I think we can get there before 25 years out. There is something called the 'multiplicity effect'. The good done will compound itself in multiples and this will ensure a change sooner than later.

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crawdaddy 2 months, 3 weeks ago

I don't have the answer but can we at least look elsewhere in similar island communities where they may have had some success in reducing gun violence? What strategies had positive outcomes and which did not. It is not failure to seek out help when things go awry.

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bahamianson 2 months, 3 weeks ago

I submit to you that it isn't gun violence because all guns used are illegal guns. Rifles and shotguns.are legal in the Bahamas and none.of the fatalities were committed with either. Once you remove the illegal guns, and the source, and the violently minded individuals, we should be okay.

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Godson 2 months, 3 weeks ago

You are halfway to the solution. Guns don't kill, be they illegal or otherwise. People kill. One does not need a gun to kill; just a mind and a will to kill.

The question then remains, what have we been programming into the minds of our people throughout their lives? It may also be a question of whether we did it, or, allowed others to, willfully or inadvertently. The reality is, we have programmed and produced killers and not peace-dwelling citizens.

Now, where do we go from here? For starters, those who hold the office of influence/power, don't hold a clue. Those of us who do, ought to present ourselves to the people to be elected to serve. If we are rejected, as stated earlier, the people get what they deserve.

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Porcupine 2 months, 2 weeks ago

"once you remove the illegal guns" proves you are clueless. Clueless.

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AnObserver 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Start passing out condoms in school.

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ScubaSteve 2 months, 3 weeks ago

YES!!!! This is the first, real, concrete solution that has been presented so far in this Comments section. Naturally, this would only be "part" of the overall solution, but it would certainly help in the long-run.

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DiverBelow 2 months, 2 weeks ago

There is a need to institute educational programs to make better citizenship & associated responsibilities. This on both sides of the Gulfstream, the sovereigns are different but issues/influences are the same with such proximity. Bring back the 3 C's: Corporal Punishment, Civil Education, Care for Your Neighbor. Religion & Politicians will always be the necessary symbiotic parasites of society, elect the ones with Somewhat of a Conscience to improve their Neighbors lives, while they improve on their own.

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Dawes 2 months, 3 weeks ago

At a guess we will have a lot of road blocks and a show of force by the police at the weekend. Then they will announce they cited a large number of people and nothing will change.

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whogothere 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Incidentally one more murder and officially more people will have died of emotional human outbursts this year than covid...yes we still are clinging to masks in schools supposedly. We're spending millions on bridges to nowhere...chasing empty carbon neutral Ponzi schemes..and swimming in debt...with a populous that is broke angry and uneducated. The only way out of this mess is an acute focus on the kids - they are the future. Every available dollar should be invested in to securing and nurturing the best educational opportunities for our children so they are armed with the knowledge and skill set to make the best choices in every situation. Education fosters an accumulation of social and emotional capital that in turn accentuates economic growth and socio-political resilience.

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Porcupine 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I agree 100%. Except that children emulate their parents and caregivers. To break the cycle of ignorance, we need to have our kids raised by whom? We missed the educational lecture nearly 2 generations ago. Uneducated pastors, which is most of them, do not help matters, focusing on belief, as opposed to knowledge. They do not need be mutually exclusive, as they are now.

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Godson 2 months, 2 weeks ago

And notwithstanding the credit due to your recommendation, I hold that education can take on an even broader scope than just our children. It can be all-encompassing should you know what it is that you are doing and the changes you hope to affect. However, I concur, education is key.

And not to come across as being repetitive pertaining to what fundamentally has to first happen, but neither political entities, the PLP nor FNM, are capable of doing this (global climate change is their priority - not us). The Bahamian people have got to rid themselves of both fascinations.

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whogothere 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Godson I think you over estimate the presence of care givers and parents…in that vacuum there is space for inspiration and nurture (or destruction and distraction) …teachers hold the future on their shoulders - 6 hours a day plus extracurricular activities…shouldnt we be sure we are investing in the best people and facilities for the job..?

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Godson 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Whogothere, when I speak of education, I am not only referring to the form of institutional education that is taught within the compounds and classes of our schools. It is the responsibility of the government to inform and keep its citizenry informed with information that lends to personal and overall development. In my mind, there is a strategy to do this. The people that stood at the foot at the 'Cross' were hardly children, yet, it was stated, "forgive them for they know not....". The corollary here is, "if they knew better, they would have done better".

Every single soul in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas is in need of new information that can transform their lives and have the consequence of transforming our Country. In other words, we need re-education. There are many errors in the information we have been going on with. So many things are wrong and corrupt with the way we have been conducting our lives from a leadership and follower standpoint. This article, being written and the question it poses, in and of itself, is evidence of this.

This cadre of politicians is not equipped nor prepared for this undertaking. Their whole pursuit to get in and hold government office is aimed merely at accomplishing a life achievement for themselves, their friends, and their lovers. It has nothing to do with their preparedness to serve the general public, or, the fact that they are equipped, willing, and able to serve everyone irrespective of background and social status.

Have we seen any real concerted focus and care being directed at the high spate of murders? No! Global warming is their priority while some 140 young men and women die yearly from violence. This would be my top priority to deal with, irrespective of my broad and yet collective approach.

Policing crime is not a solution. It does not prevent crime. There is no consolation in knowing who kill your loved one. How stupid! The idea is for your loved one not to be killed at all. Criminal activities, for the most part, are to be prevented, not simply discovered.

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quavaduff 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Do what you always do, blame the FNM. Until you address the proliferation of guns in the Bahamas by aggressively going after the guns to confiscate and destroy them and heavily penalizing all in possession of said guns, the killings will continue.

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