Wednesday, February 19, 2020
By FARRAH JOHNSON
NATIONAL Security Minister Marvin Dames yesterday confirmed the Royal Bahamas Police Force has arrested people in relation to a spate of recent armed robberies and home invasions in the capital.
He made the statement at a press conference with the National Neighbourhood Watch Council (NNWC), where he highlighted how the organisation has contributed to “some positive turn of events” in local communities.
“Just recently we would have had a few incidents – very alarming incidents – of great concern to all of us in a number of our communities,” he said. “Where there are neighbourhood watch groups they have been very active (and) the co-chairs as well as the police liaison officers have been in these communities.
“... I think you’re seeing some positive signs because the police are following really good leads. They would have arrested some persons already in any number of these matters and so some good things are happening.”
Mr Dames insisted the police have done a good job in preventing crime and identifying suspects quickly.
Still, he admitted that while no one “wants to see an incident,” there are people who are “hell-bent on causing problems no matter what”.
Asked what measures the NNWC have implemented in the wake of recent home invasions, he added: “When you look at, for example, the reported crime last year, crime in the communities were down significantly. When we look at shop break-ins and house break-ins, the numbers were down in double digits. I think in one or two of the categories as high as 30-something percent.
“We have not done any studies empirically to determine what impacted those numbers so positively, but I think I can go on the limb and say that when you look at some of the efforts that are currently being executed or done in many of these communities where there exist neighbourhood watch groups, some positive things are happening.”
Mr Dames also spoke about how recent investments in CCTV and drones will “transform” the police force and “turn it into a real modern crime fighting machine.”
“We’re going to integrate all of this technology,” he said. “So it means now that the drones will be integrated with ShotSpotter, it will be integrated with the CCTV cameras and will be able to pipe into (a) real time crime centre (which) will be monitored on a 24/7 basis.
“So let’s say if someone fires a shot in Kemp Road, ShotSpotters (will) pick that up (and) all the cameras in that area trains on that area because these are smart cameras with analytics and the drones will be smart too. So the drones if they’re up there, they will move into that area with the view of locating the suspect or suspects involved.”
Insisting crime is not just a police matter, but a “national issue” that calls for collaboration between authorities and the public, he added: “The prescription (for crime) rests in measures beyond our January 23, 2019 $1.9 million contract that was implemented for ShotSpotter,” he said.
“The solution exceeds our May 21, 2019 $3.1 million contract to create the Marco’s Alert System.
“Indeed, the remedy surpasses the second phase of the expansion of the police fleet of vehicles at a cost of some $3.4 million...and although enforcement is needed at this time, the solution to our criminal challenges lie in each citizen of our chains of islands.”
Mr Dames said his ministry plans to “raise new questions and embrace new possibilities” to find solutions for challenges with “collective and creative imagination.”
“The National Neighbourhood Watch Council’s objective is to galvanise community support, work collaboratively with the Royal Bahamas Police Force and other agencies to reduce crime,” he explained.
“…To make a long-term dent in crime, experts say the strategy has to include primary prevention. That means we must be engaged in the effort to reduce the temporary endemic violence we have seen in the past.”
Mr Dames said his ministry’s goal is to “reshape policing” in the country in partnership of the NNWC.
He added that they are “formulating, implementing and facilitating programmes and initiatives to remove deep rooted national hurdles.”
“This year our primary focus includes crime deterrence, youth violence prevention, strategic intervention and educative programmes and initiatives and the implementation of the council’s youth arm,” he said.
“We will not allow criminals to act in anonymity. We work not in independence, but in mutual dependence on each other.”
As part of their efforts, the Ministry of National Security in conjunction with the NWCC will host their second annual peace march on Saturday, February 22.
The public is also invited to their church service on Sunday, February 23, which will take place at Evangelistic Temple, Collins Avenue and Fourth Terrace.