No credible reports on firearms in shelters, says minister
NASSAU, BAHAMAS —Law enforcement agencies in the country are satisfied with the level of security at shelters for displaced residents of Hurricane Dorian in New Providence, according to Minister of National Security Marvin Dames.
Dames addressed concerns amid a flurry of unconfirmed reports of contraband being found in some of the centers.
The minister stressed no firearms have been found at any of the shelters housing hundreds of displaced residents. He noted there were credible complaints of incidents concerning security on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama in the aftermath of the dangerous storm; however, he said the trend was not uncommon following a natural disaster.
Dames cautioned the public about circulating claims that “cannot be validated”.
“We’re managing a crisis and these things are not lost on us,” the minister said.
“You look at any crisis in anywhere the world over; when you have a crisis people look for opportunities, especially criminals, to capitalize on. There are some complaints that are very credible.
Dames continued: “The commissioner, and the commodore and their teams have been able to make some very good arrests throughout Abaco and Grand Bahama with a focus still on New Providence, and the central and southern Bahamas. But, there is still an awful lot of complaints, a lot of things that we are seeing reported on social media that cannot be validated.
Dames explained unfounded claims hindered officers from focusing on credible complaints. “Stuff like firearms in the shelters, there are no reports of any firearms being found in any shelters. Our first responders are more than capable alright, and I don’t think anyone would want to try and do any nonsense at those centers because the response will be resolute,” he said.
“And so, we’re not concerned about the level of security about any of those centers because we have persons there and that is superimposed by the regular patrols carried out by the police and division commanders in those respective areas.”
Eyewitness News Online spoke to several evacuees at the Kendal G. L. Isaacs Gymnasium — one of 11 shelters in New Providence and housing 845 people — who said while conditions were a far cry from the norm, there had been no major incidents and few concerns about security.
Dames said there were ongoing discussions to maintain and improve the level of security at the shelters and to ensure there is an account of who enters and exits.
“That is very important to us because we have to ensure that the people in the shelters are safe and not using the shelters as a means to create mischief or to commit crime,” Dames said.
The minister said security of the shelters remains a top priority, but underscored law enforcement agencies “still have a country to run”.
As the country recovers from a natural disaster, Dames noted the Commodore of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force was tasked with securing the northwest, while paying attention to the southern border of the country to ensure there is no “open season”.