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News : Bahamas Information Services Updates Last Updated: Aug 21, 2019 - 7:30:24 PM

Contract Signed for MARCO’s Alert System
By Eric Rose
Aug 21, 2019 - 7:35:04 PM

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Scenes from the MARCO's Alert Contract Signing Ceremony, held in the Bimini Room of the Baha Mar Convention Centre on August 21, 2019. (BIS Photo/Eric Rose)

Nassau, The Bahamas - Surrounded by Cabinet Members, Law Enforcement representatives, national and international stakeholders, and family members of the late Marco Archer, the Government of The Bahamas signed the contract with Multimedia Technologies, Ltd., for the MARCO's Alert System in the Bimini Room of the Baha Mar Convention Centre on August 21, 2019.

After bringing apologies on behalf of Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis, who was not able to attend the Contract Signing Ceremony due to prior commitments, Minister of National Security the Hon. Marvin Dames acknowledged all the stakeholders and Marco Archer's family members present and the role they played in bringing the contract signing into fruition.

“It would be remiss of me if I failed to acknowledge my predecessor and former Minister of National Security, the late Hon. Dr. Bernard Nottage who was at the forefront of championing the cause that would see the enactment of Marco’s Law,” he added.  “God bless his soul.”

Scenes from the MARCO's Alert Contract Signing Ceremony, held in the Bimini Room of the Baha Mar Convention Centre on August 21, 2019. (BIS Photo/Eric Rose)

Among those present included Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest; Minister of Social Services and Urban Development the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell; Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs the Hon. Carl Bethel; Minister of Foreign Affairs the Hon. Darren Henfield; Acting Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of National Security, Eugene Poitier;  Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, Rhoda Jackson; Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, Michael A. Foulkes; Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister (Grand Bahama), Harcourt Brown; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Housing, Janice Miller; Permanent Secretary at the Office of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs, Cecilia Strachan; Commander of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Commodore Tellis Bethel; Bahamas Department of Correctional Services Commissioner, Charles Murphy; U.S. Embassy Charge d'Affaires Stephanie Bowers; Bahamas Christian Council President, Bishop Delton Fernander; senior representatives of the Royal Bahamas Police Force; other corporate and civil stakeholders; and members of the Mount Moriah's Transformers Band, who performed throughout the Contract Signing Ceremony.

Minister Dames reiterated that that day would not be possible without the family of Marco Archer.

Scenes from the MARCO's Alert Contract Signing Ceremony, held in the Bimini Room of the Baha Mar Convention Centre on August 21, 2019. (BIS Photo/Eric Rose)

“To the family, I commend you for your tireless efforts in not only advocating for the passing of Marco’s Law but remaining actively involved in the creation of the Marco’s Alert,” Minister Dames said.  “You have turned your loss into activism to ensure that no other family has to endure the sheer terror and pain of losing a child and loved one.

“Thus, today, I stand here as more than the Minister of National Security,” he added.  “I am the father of two children, Joshua and Kai, the uncle of many others, and representative for the children of Mt. Moriah and, by extension, the entire Bahamas.

Minister Dames said like many Bahamians in September of 2011 when young Marco Archer went missing and days later he was found dead, he was shocked and outraged and recognized the need, at a national level, to improve upon our approaches to finding and caring for the nation's missing children.

He pointed out that the circumstances surrounding the kidnapping were disturbing and ultimately terrifying for a nation in which it is common to see children moving freely throughout their communities unaccompanied, and without any fear of being abducted by some disturbed individual.

“The details of this and other missing children’s cases do not convey the sense of urgency and danger that such abductions represent,” Minister Dames said.  “While the number of children reported missing in The Bahamas each year is minimal, the issue is one of great concern and all parents worst nightmare.

“Despite the passage of years, for some of us, the memory of this crime is still fresh.”

Minister Dames noted that, in such cases, rapid response is critical, as research indicates. He added, that, according to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, the first three hours of a child abduction are the most important.

“This is irrespective of whether the perpetrator is a stranger, a friend or an acquaintance,” he pointed out.  “There can be no question that a solid and seamless network of police, corporate, and community support is a critical part in the development of our child protection infrastructure in The Bahamas.”

Minister Dames said based on technology, and the knowledge about what works in responding to child abductions, The Bahamas had evolved over the decades.

“The Mandatory Aggressive Action for Rescuing Children Operation or MARCO’s Alert will bring together collective partnership and alliances between corporate Bahamas, the Police Force, and civil society,” Minister Dames stated. “The Bahamas now joins 18 other countries with a child abduction alert that has been patterned after the AMBER Alert system in the United States.”

Specifically, Minister Dames noted, the Alert would be critical to assisting in the recovery strategies by integrating all of the primary and secondary distribution pathways available, including new wireless capabilities and the traditional alerting protocols.

“Furthermore, the Marco’s Alert will empower the community to work cooperatively with law enforcement and the media to increase the safety of our communities,” Minister Dames said.  “In addition, all social media and traditional media platforms will be maximized. The main objective is always the safe return of the child.”

“Today’s contract signing should also send a strong message to criminals that crimes against children are intolerable and we will utilise all available resources to bring our children back home safely,” he added.  “I am thankful for those who have partnered with us to advocate for Marco’s Law and Marco’s Alert, all of which will provide comprehensive strategies to arrest offenders.”

Minister Dames noted that the world was indeed changing and those who are charged with the care of its children must change with it, in order to remain relevant. It is time to recognize that some of the issues that face children today did not exist in the past, he added, while other threats have taken on new forms.

“We, therefore, must adjust to the times in which we live,” Minister Dames admonished.  “Child protection requires more than just telling our children not to talk to strangers. The tools for sexual predation have now become more widespread and can be accessed by computers, smartphones and tablets that we buy for our children.”

“Technology has created a whole new method by which undesirables can reach our sons and daughters,” he added.  “This signing ceremony will put the tools in the hands of law enforcement to capture would-be abductors and save children but it is important to note that it requires the efforts of our communities to truly be effective.”

Minister Dames noted that the following day, August 22, was Marco’s birthday and he would have turned 19-years-old.

“He once indicated to his mother that he wanted to be a policeman to arrest the ‘bad guys',” Minister Dames shared.  “While Marco may never suit up in a uniform, Marco’s Law and Marco’s Alert, both named in his honour, will ensure that he will always play a critical role in assisting the police in arresting the bad guys.

“I can think of no better way than to honour his memory and ensure that we never forget our individual and collective responsibility to safeguarding the well-being of our children.”

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