Consistent police presence
The August 28 murder of Shelton Tinker Jr. made headlines. He was eight months old.
According to police, a gunman approached Shelton Tinker Sr., the baby’s father, as he arrived at his Rupert Dean Lane home around 3 a.m. on Monday. The gunman forced him in and fired several shots, hitting Tinker Sr., Jeffrina Sweeting, the mother, and the baby. The parents were hospitalized. The baby was pronounced dead on the scene.
Even in the midst of a decade-long crime surge, Bahamians were shocked and outraged by this killing.
When such moments occur, and sadly they occur too often in New Providence, police respond with presence. They have been everywhere the past few days. Heavily armed and intimidating officers were even doing road checks in downtown Nassau.
The island’s residents welcome increased police presence. They are tired of being prey. Marked patrols and heightened police visibility deter crime. That’s a fact.
What we miss in The Bahamas, though, is being consistent. After a few weeks we will go back to the norm. Fewer police will be visible. There will be fewer road checks. The criminals notice the change. When police retreat they go back on the prowl, searching for weak targets to rob and harm.
Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade appears to be about to retire. Anthony Ferguson appears set to be the next commissioner. Police visibility increased during Greenslade’s watch. Before he was commissioner seeing a marked patrol was like seeing a chickcharney.
We have further ways to go in changing force deployment, however. We must build on the progress Greenslade initiated. We hope this is one of the main focuses of the new commissioner. More officers must be brought to the streets. The mobile division needs more men and women and vehicles to do its part. More foot patrols led by neighborhood police stations are also needed across the island.
The emphasis must be on presence deterring crime. And these increased patrols need to be standard operating procedure. We must make this happen rather than just finding the officers needed for surges only after calamity strikes again.
The new prime minister has made restoring order a major priority. He is willing to provide police with the resources needed to carry out their mandate. Leadership is now needed to dramatically change force deployment to deter deviants from their trade.
More police won’t completely solve our crime problem, of course. We as a people need to do a better job raising our children. The education system must improve. Pro-growth policies are needed so that there are more jobs. But in the short term, to lessen the chaos of modern New Providence, seeing police out in large numbers helps. Their presence makes our neighborhoods and communities safer.