Over the past two weeks, newspaper headlines have recounted horrific stories of violence, murder and mayhem which have gripped communities here in New Providence and on Grand Bahama Island; cementing crime and the fear of crime as one of the country’s most pressing national issues. What these disturbing newspaper articles also reveal though, is that this current administration is clueless about how to make our paradise safer.
Many Bahamians will recall the many promises made on the campaign trail. Television commercials which boasted that the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) had the answer to the country’s rising crime concerns. In fact, many Bahamians will also recall the placement of massive billboards across New Providence which detailed what, at the time, were staggering and disturbing statistics on murder, attempted murder, armed robbery and other serious crimes. Those billboards placed in plain view of residents and visitors alike as an indicator of what the PLP, then in opposition, called the failures of the FNM government.
In their Charter for Governance, the PLP outlined a series of plans which they assured Bahamians would restore law and order to our societal landscape. Since taking office however, it has become painstakingly obvious that those campaign promises to stifle criminal activity across the country, were merely that – promises. Since May 2012 plans like Project Safe Bahamas, and Urban Renewal 2.0 which had been touted as key elements of this administration’s crime fighting efforts, have had lackluster results at best.
This government, which campaigned and won the election by convincing Bahamians that they were prepared to govern on day one, has failed at every turn in bringing any real solutions to the country’s crime problem. In fact, the country’s murder rate is said to be 36% higher today, than it was during this same period one year ago. The criminal element has become even more emboldened by the government’s inaction, targeting Bahamians of every socio-economic status, including the Deputy Prime Minister.
Instead of enacting a result oriented plan of action which should include the reintroduction of capital punishment, the proper management of police resources, combined with significant physical and legislative upgrades to the judiciary, the Ministers responsible for the country’s National Security often appear defensive and combative when questioned about their obvious failures in this regard.
The government’s apparent inability to make the necessary changes to its legislative agenda on crime, has also fueled undue speculation and criticisms of the commitment of the executive arm of the Royal Bahamas Police Force to fighting crime in the Bahamas.
The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) commends Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade and the entire Police Force for continuing to do what is undoubtedly a very difficult job, under very extreme circumstances. Unfortunately, the efforts of our police force continue to be thwarted by government interference. As proven by the Prime Minister’s handling of the mortgage affairs of his friend and tax evader Ishmael Lightbourne, the PLP continues to use its political influence to interfere in the administration of justice on the part of their political cronies, family members and friends.
The time has come for the government to untie the hands of the Police and allow them to carry out their duties to protect and serve without political interference! Until such time, we in the Bahamas will continue to live in paradise but be paralyzed by fear.