EDITORIAL: Let this shocking crime serve as a wake-up call

THE truly shocking news of the murder of the Aide-de-Camp to the Governor General Inspector Carlis Blatch has truly rocked the nation.

Any violent sudden death ought to be of deep concern to other human beings. However, the shooting of Inspector Blatch is egregious beyond measure, not only on account of the terrible circumstances of what appears to have been an opportunistic armed robbery in his own car and in the presence of his young daughter, but also because he was clearly a decent and worthy man of great distinction in his profession who was widely admired, respected and loved.

This wicked act of random evil is a tragedy for Insp Blatch’s family and loved-ones and for his colleagues. It also besmirches us as a country which has been suffering for far too long from levels of violent crime that have become unacceptably high.

There have been assurances in recent months from the Minister of National Security and the Commissioner of Police about the declining incidence of serious crime and the increasing effectiveness of work by the police in dealing with the relatively small numbers of offenders allegedly responsible for most of it. But perhaps this new outrage will finally be a wake-up call for sterner action against the so-called criminal class, though a balance always has to be struck between keeping the public safe in the most effective way and use of excessive and unlawful force.

The police themselves face danger daily from wrong doers intent on flagrant law-breaking and apparently oblivious of the possible consequences of their blatant criminal acts - and the public is indebted to police officers for protecting society to the extent they are able to do so. Inevitably, they will react with anger to this latest atrocity against one of their own, but, as professionals, they will surely exercise restraint within the confines of the law since police brutality and vengeance are the mark of Third World dictatorships and have no place in The Bahamas where the rule of law is a cornerstone of our democracy.

Nonetheless, it remains a mystery to the general public why on the small island of New Providence, in particular, where criminals with few places to hide should be readily identifiable, the police are unable to get a better handle on the perpetrators and take them off the streets. The police tend to blame the courts for failing to impose harsher sentences so perhaps this should be a wake-up call for our justice system as well.

While the tributes to Insp Blatch pour in for his service as a consummate professional at Government House – not least from the Governors General whom he served so ably and who are in a better position than anyone else to appreciate his sterling qualities – we should like to pay our own respects to him.

We offer The Tribune’s deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. We grieve with you in your loss, in the harshest of circumstances, of an exceptional man.