Monday, Jul 15, 2019
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FNM government has failed on crime

Dear Editor,

The FNM government has failed to impact crime in our country.

While it is indeed regrettable that the nation’s chief crime fighter, Commissioner Ellison Greenslade, can only “lament worsening crime”, we contend that the commissioner and his over-extended force are not to blame for the deteriorating crime situation.  Instead the blame must be placed where it belongs – clearly at the feet of a clueless FNM government.

Of course by this time the many apologists for Prime Minister Ingraham and the FNM are queuing up to attack the PLP deputy leader for his criticism of the government.  Nevertheless, there is one undeniable trend that has received very little attention from the media.  And that is the growing number of witnesses to murder who are themselves being killed.

It is the contention of the Progressive Liberal Party that the increasing elimination of witnesses and the resulting reluctance of ordinary citizens to co-operate with the police are the direct consequences of the reckless and shortsighted policies of the present FNM government.

The previous PLP administration implemented two bold innovations that were designed to increase public confidence in the police force and to forge a partnership of police and the people. These were the Witness Protection Program and the Urban Renewal Initiative.  Under the Witness Protection Program, ordinary citizens were becoming increasingly assured that they could give the police information that would be acted on discreetly.  What happened to the Witness Protection program?  It was abandoned by the FNM as soon as they came into office.

The sad saga of Urban Renewal is well known to every Bahamian.  As a direct result of The Urban Renewal Program, police officers actually became part of the communities in which they worked.  Young men and women were being redirected into constructive activities.  Youths off the streets actually earned college scholarships.  Each center became the hub of positive social interaction.  The crime rate actually went down in every Urban Renewal community.  This program, the brainchild of then Prime Minister Perry Christie, was so successful that it became the new international model for community policing, a model studied and emulated by law enforcement bodies in the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, and North America.

Law officers in Jamaica in particular, picked up the plan created by Mr. Christie and ran with it.  Today, that Caribbean country for the first time in many years has seen significant declines in the area of crime.

Yet as soon as the FNM came into power, in an act of pure political spite and colossal stupidity, all the Urban Renewal Centers were shut down, instructors left with little direction and police officers packed up and shipped back to headquarters.  The very same program that is currently being copied with great success all over the world was abandoned in the very country that created it.

Now, there is no more bonding between our protectors and those they seek to protect.  Now, members of the public are afraid to speak to the police. 

Today, witnesses find themselves squarely in the cross hairs of the criminals’ gun sights.

And as for the police? Don’t blame the police. The police can only do what the government of the day allows and enables them to do. In essence, the commissioner and the entire Royal Bahamas Police Force have been “handcuffed” by the FNM government.

Yours, etc.,
PLP deputy leader

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