COP: No crime uptick during power outages

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson said yesterday there is no indication that power outages contribute to crime upticks, but indicated that he does not plan to get involved in that debate.

Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) officials said while the power company considered releasing a load shedding schedule, there was fear of increased crime in affected areas.

During a press conference at the Central Detective Unit, the commissioner was asked if authorities observed an uptick in crime during the spate of prolonged outages over the last week and a half.

“Absolutely not,” he responded.

When asked about concerns that the release of a load shedding schedule could lead to increased criminal activity, Ferguson said, “Absolutely not. Again, social media. These things are; everybody has these.”

Ferguson gestured toward his cellphone.

He continued, “Whatever their fancy is by picking it up and then sending out a voice note is beyond me.”

It was pointed out that Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) executives made the claim.

The commissioner said, “Whatever [a] person’s fancy is in sending out anything that suggests that there was a spike in crime because of outages, I shall not get in that.”

There have been prolonged outages since June 19.

Load shedding was exacerbated in the days that followed after two of BPL’s generators failed.

Amid the height of the outages, with areas experiencing three to four hours without power, several times per day, BPL customers demanded a schedule of the load shedding exercises.

When Minister of National Security Marvin Dames was asked if police officers advised BPL not to release load shedding schedules, the minister said, “I don’t know anything about the BPL situation other than we had outages and they did send out communications to that effect.”

He said, however, that authorities have a “real concern” about power outages, particularly island-wide outages, as there is “always a risk”.

“If there is a blackout there’s a risk that persons will take advantage of that blackout,” he said.

He said officers are usually advised of outages in advance and they are able to deploy additional resources to impacted areas.

The minister noted that he did not have statistics to validate the claim.

When asked about the matter last Monday, the commissioner declined to respond.

“I really don’t want to comment on any kind of thing that involves something in a different lane,” he said.

“I can tell you that the members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force are up and about.

“They are doing their jobs and we’ll continue to do that.

“That is as much as I will say in respect to that.”

BPL Chairman Donovan Moxey said last week that the power provider expected to bring on 25 megawatts of additional rental generation by the end of last week, which was expected to supplement the increased demand in the short term.