NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Murders dropped 22 percent in 2020 compared to the year prior, according to Minister of National Security Marvin Dames.
There were 74 murders in 2020, the lowest on record in 15 years.
The murder count for 2019 was 95, the lowest in a decade up to that point.
Dames, who provided a snapshot of crime statistics expected to be presented this week by Police Commissioner Paul Rolle, said while there is much work ahead, yearly crime figures reflect a downward trend in the major categories of murder and armed robberies.
Armed robberies fell by 41 percent — from 532 incidents in 2019 to 315 in 2020, according to Dames.
He was addressing police officers at their annual church service at police headquarters on East Street yesterday.
“This means that your persistence and 21st Century crime-fighting strategies, supported by investments in technologies, and officers’ commitment to their profession are working,” Dames said.
“In addition, with the assistance of your partners both locally and abroad, you have successfully interdicted, disrupted and destabilized local and transnational crime organizations operating in The Bahamas, throughout the region and around the world.”
Dames has acknowledged that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in months of closures, curfews and lockdowns last year, impacted criminal activity.
Yesterday, the minister said: “Despite the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) to shift a significant amount of its resources away from its core functions, you never lost focus; you continued to deliver on your strategic objective for 2020 with significant success.”
According to Dames, 266 illegal firearms and 3,945 rounds of ammunition were seized in 2020.
The minister has said gun seizures are critical to the effort of reducing murders in the nation.
Rolle told the media on the sidelines of the church service that he will present crime statistics for 2020 later on this week.
Dames reminded officers that their employers are the Bahamian people and their success will be predicated on how they treat the public.
“As your agency continues to make steady progress in reducing crime and the fear of crime throughout our nation, let me remind you to always be cognizant of the oath each of you would have taken upon becoming police officers,” he said.
“You are in service business. Your employers are the Bahamian people. In other words, they are your bosses.
“While you go about the business of ridding our communities of those who seek to destroy them, remember this fact: most of your encounters will involve law-abiding citizens.
“Your success will be predicated on how you treat them.
“I am a firm believer that any successful police organization must, and I repeat, must have a genuine relationship with the communities they have sworn to serve.”
He reminded officers that the technology that the government continues to provide the police force in the effort to fight crime, makes it easier to record and capture moments.
He said the public is watching.
“It is no secret. I once served as a police officer,” Dames said.
“Therefore, I encourage you to always remain vigilant, taking nothing and no one for granted while being respectful of those you have sworn to protect.”