Reports of looting continue in storm-ravaged island
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A number of people have been arrested in Abaco amid reports of looting following the passage of Hurricane Dorian, according to Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson, though the exact number of arrests was not divulged.
He was responding to questions from the media about the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s (RBPF) efforts to prevent storm survivors ransacking residences and buildings still standing on the storm-ravaged island and whether there was sufficient personnel on the ground.
“Certainly, we have arrested several persons,” the commissioner said during a press conference at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
“Just overnight — last night — we arrested persons and I’m pretty sure that as long as people continue to go afoul of the law we will arrest them.”
In an address last week, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said security personnel on the ground stabilized the “security situation” in Abaco. At the time, the prime minister advised that there were a combined 900 defense force and police force officers in Grand Bahama and Abaco, including reservists.
Despite this, unconfirmed reports of looting from residences continue.
To this, Ferguson said, “I think people have to be a little patient. Marsh Harbour, Abaco, after the storm was in total disarray.
“You have blockages all over the place and so therefore when you deploy teams into an environment, you have to get familiar with the environment and know how to maneuver. And so, I just urge those persons to be a bit patient.”
Addressing a reporter, the commissioner continued, “You had the opportunity to go to Marsh Harbour and it was total destruction, so really, what you would have seen [with] your own two eyes, there is not [many] buildings there; just a lot of rubble. We are committed, along with my colleague from the Defence Force, to…. making sure that there is safety on the islands of Abaco.”
When asked whether there was any consideration of imposing martial law on the island with the assistance of the United States — a measure that would see the suspension of ordinary law and military authority take control of civilian functions — the commissioner insisted that the police force will “only operate within the confines of the law”.
While Ferguson refused to state the exact number of officers on the ground in Abaco, he said manpower has been maintained on the island, adding that, “you don’t have to worry about numbers, plenty officers are all over the place”.