IF you were hoping that our leaders would be singing from the same hymn sheet on the issue of crime, you would be sadly disappointed right now.
After yet another warning from the US government, urging American citizens to “exercise increased caution” in The Bahamas due to crime, there were plenty of different opinions to go around.
The alert named New Providence and Grand Bahama as the hotspots for crime, and said: “In Nassau, practice increased vigilance in the ‘Over The Hill’ area (south of Shirley Street) where gang-on-gang violence has resulted in a high homicide rate primarily affecting the local population”.
First of all, there was the Prime Minister, Philip “Brave” Davis, who declared that he does not feel that the crime rate will affect tourism.
That might be comforting for those seeking to benefit from tourist dollars, but it is of no solace to the families and friends of those who have been killed this year already. The murder count presently stands at 107, at the time of writing.
Then we have the dynamic duo leading our crime fight, the National Security Minister and the Police Commissioner. One says it is a crisis, the other says it is not.
Minister Wayne Munroe said yesterday: “It is a crisis. Everything is a crisis. You have a health crisis. If you put on ten pounds, that’s a crisis.”
We are not sure how Mr Munroe has found his way from a murder epidemic to dietary advice there, but at least he does acknowledge, albeit seemingly somewhat flippantly, there is indeed a crisis.
Police Commissioner Clayton Fernander said, however, he did not believe the nation was in a crisis, but put the focus on the practical steps his officers were taking. He said: “We continue to arrest and bring individuals into custody who are found in possession of unlicenced firearms and they are being put before the court. Even the matters, the murders that occur and the results, you could see that we are arresting individuals for them and putting them before the court – but we want to be able to prevent these murders from happening.”
After setting a goal of keeping the murder count for the year below 100, a figure we have surpassed with a long way to go in the year, he said: “We tried and as I said, we can’t stop everybody. That was our goal, but we were not able to accomplish that but we’re going to continue and I don’t believe in counting numbers. The bottom line is we want to save some of these young men from the life of crime.”
Those numbers, of course, are not just numbers. Each one is a life lost. It’s not just about counting numbers, it’s about monitoring the state of our nation, measuring against the years before to see if we are doing better – or worse. Without knowing where we stand, we do not know how if we are succeeding or failing.
Last week, the FNM criticised the government for not having a comprehensive plan on crime.
Warnings to tourists, a PM saying there is no harm to tourism, a National Security Minister saying there is a crisis, a Police Commissioner saying there is no crisis.
Never mind a comprehensive plan, right now it seems our leaders cannot even speak with one voice.