Last week I said let the police do the policing. Easier said than done especially if a clear understanding of policing is not made. As with any concept when coming to the Bahamas, it becomes Bahamian, because it is developed, managed and maintained here. We must however be very careful as mentioned last week not to 'copy' and 'paste' the idea, then attempt to publish it without the necessary editing and corrections. I am a firm believer in not reinventing the wheel, but I also realize that one wheel does not fit every car.
With that said, it must first be understood that our model of policing is very different from that of the United States. Where as American Law Enforcement has several levels and divisions, the Bahamas as one National Police Force that is responsible for all tares. We are familiar American Policing terms such as city, county, state and federal. All terms represent different policing divisions and different jurisdictions. Further if circumstances become very volatile there is also the option of calling in the National Guard. Here in our Bahamas, we have only the Royal Bahamas Police Force, who do everything from dignitary protection, to school policing, to court security, to Central Bank Escorts. All of these functions are carried out by the same organization; none of these services are given directly to the general public. I must mention additional services such as fire and those officers assigned to the police band. So here you have a national organization stretching from Grand Bahama to Inagua, delivering a service that is so wide and diverse in its scope, that is my opinion that effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability is but 'a fainting illusion, to pursued but never obtained'
Immediately, if you are reading this column Mr. Minister of National Security and Mr. Commissioner of Police, get trained police officers on the streets. Officers assigned to clerical tasks such as, accountants, secretaries, carpenters, electricians, pump attendants, chauffeurs, mechanics and musicians, all of whom make up the numbers need to be, rather must be placed in front line functions. Additionally, support services such as the Fire Department, need to be removed from the count, no reassignment here as there is shortage of personnel as it is, and this function should not be tampered with. Never the less it is miss leading when the public is told that there are lets say one hundred officers; when 25 are firefighters and another 25 are deployed to non policing functions as those listed above. Really, are there not 50 officers assigned to front line policing that is 50 divided by 4 given the time of the day.
Can you say Z-E-R-O Tolerance, it is simple as that. I take you back to the events of September 4 th 2001 Nassau, Bahamas, September 11 th, 2001 New York, April 19 th, 1995 Oklahoma. All events associated with these dates were the result of ignoring the little things, the minor infractions left unattended will result in disastrous results. It is the old story of failing to attend to the cracks in the dam, have allowed for a flood that is much more difficult to manage. The upsurge in crime in this country in my opinion is a result of our allowance of the little things. The officer pulling you over for speeding being met with, 'why you all do not go after the real criminals'. Well folks Timothy McVeigh and team were apprehended because of a traffic violation, a simple broken tail light.
Far too often it can be observed where motorist across New Providence create a third and forth lane, child in hand, while talking on their cell phone. If the police force were to arm every officer with fixed penalty booklets and traffic management tools, then I believe we will see a reduction in crime. This enforcement of what is perceived to be minor reduces and limits the opportunity to for major offences. Why are cars driving without proper lighting and specifications? Why are motorcyclist riding without helmets and underage persons allowed to purchase alcohol? These actions are the roots and sprouts, why are we waiting to tackle them when they become large trees and bushes. If this is not criminal then what is.
Never the less credit must be given to the police we see the occurrence of this zero tolerance approach, however it is not maintained. Case in point, Friday past saw during the evening hours a swarm of police activity on various intersections throughout New Providence. Heavily armed officers could be seen stopping and searching suspect vehicles and issuing traffic citations. Excellent initiative, except that on Saturday and Sunday, as I drove these same intersections very little police could be seen. We are all familiar with the various flood stories that have occurred during the ages; usually they only last for a season. Consistent sustainable approaches need to be implemented for effective policing.
There is no magic bullet to policing our country, it is also not rocket science, and simply there are laws which exist that need to be enforced.
is the President of Preventative Measures, a Loss Prevention and Asset Protection Training and Consulting Company, specializing in Policy and Procedure Development, Business Security Reviews and Audits, & Emergency and Crisis Management. Comments can be sent to P.O. Box N-3154 Nassau, Bahamas or, email
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