Law enforcement agencies retooling crime strategies for storm-hit islands

Law enforcement agencies retooling crime strategies for storm-hit islands

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said yesterday that law enforcement agencies are adjusting their crime-fighting strategies in order to better address the concerns of residents on Abaco.

Dames, along with Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle and Royal Bahamas Defence Force Commodore Raymond King, visited Abaco on Sunday where they toured the cays and met with officers on the ground.

The tour came after backlash from residents on the island over reports from Rolle that crime on the island had decreased by 39 percent compared to last year.

Abaco remains in a state of recovery and reconstruction over a year after Hurricane Dorian decimated parts of the island.

Residents maintained that there has been an increase in the spate of home and business break-ins, theft, and looting since the storm.

Dames sought to explain yesterday that while crime may statistically be down on that island, there remain other issues compounding the crime fight, especially given the impacts from the hurricane.

“Policing is a very dynamic business. Crime will always be with us. It’s how we manage it,” he said.

“From time to time we have to look at our strategies and see how we can adjust it for the betterment of our community and our people.

“…Crime could be down and you could still have an issue. Policing is more than just numbers. These are quality of life issues…So the commissioner is correct, from a statistical standpoint, crime is down, but again, it’s the quality of life issues.

“It’s the feeling of being safe and when you are in such an environment where infrastructure would have been totally impacted and the normal course of life would have been disturbed significantly, that brings added pressure to this overall situation.”

Dames added that the communication lines with law enforcement and the public must remain open, so that whenever someone is experiencing an issue they know exactly where to channel that and how to get results.

“There is any number of variables impacting some people’s response to certain situations, and as was promised we will do whatever we can to work with the good people of Abaco in these very very difficult and trying circumstances that you have Dorian and on the back of that, COVID-19,” he said.

“We have to be sensitive to that and I think everybody understands we had some very productive meetings and we are on the same page.”

Asked about the need for more manpower on those islands, Dames said, “sometimes it’s more than manpower”.

“We had a good number of officers on Grand Bahama – police, and defense force,” he said.

“The commissioner of police and the commodore are looking at their strategies to see how they can improve on that.

“Sometimes it’s more than manpower. Sometimes it’s more than that.

“Abaco for example there was a lot of destruction, so it’s managing within a disaster.

“As is often the case, you have to adjust from time to time and that’s what is currently being done.”

About Sloan Smith

Sloan Smith is a senior digital reporter at Eyewitness News, covering a diverse range of beats, from politics and crime to environment and human interest. In 2018, Sloan received a nomination for the “Leslie Higgs Feature Writer of The Year Award” from The Bahamas Press Club for her work with Eyewitness News.