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Fighting to keep the murder rate down

There have been six murders since Saturday. Three people were killed within 24 hours over the weekend. Three others were killed between Monday night and yesterday afternoon.

These murders all happened in New Providence. Our main island is a high crime jurisdiction with significant drug trafficking; major gang activity; high unemployment; and low levels of education.

The Bahamas first surpassed the 100-murder mark in 2011. That year there were 127 murders. From 2011 to 2017 more than 100 murders were recorded each year. The worst year was 2015 when there were 146 murders.

We had five murder records between 2007 and 2017. Young men killing young men in disputes and retaliations – many gang related – has been at heart of the problem.

While there has been an uptick in murders the past week, overall, with almost half a year having passed, murders are down 30 percent as compared to 2017. There have been 48 murders in 2018. There were 69 murders during the same period last year.

It’s unclear what is driving the decrease, but all right-thinking Bahamians want the downward trend to continue. We have lost too many sons and daughters, friends, neighbors and colleagues to senseless violence.

Acting Commissioner of Police Emrick Seymour yesterday assured Bahamians that authorities will change their operational strategies in response to the recent killings.

“Members of the public can expect the police department to intensify its efforts going forward on the streets as we move resolutely in our policing efforts in addressing, not only these recent incidents, but all acts of criminality that are brought to our attention,” he said, surrounded by members of the police force executive team.

“They can rest assured that Nassau and indeed, the entire Bahamas, is a safe place for all of us.”

Seymour said four people being arraigned for separate murders on Monday is reflective of the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s commitment to resolving these crimes. He also said police were following several leads into the recent murders and expect to resolve them in “short order”.

Minister of National Security Marvin Dames has confidence the force can keep order. When asked on Monday whether authorities have a grip on crime, Dames insisted, “Absolutely”.

“The police authorities have significant control,” he said.

“If you look at their success over the weekend, they would have taken considerable amount of weapons off the street, and drugs. One of the things here, and I continue to say, this is bigger than a police problem.

“Parents have to learn how to sit down with their kids, especially their young men and say ‘the lifestyle you are engaging in has some concerns’.”

We hope through heightened presence and direct action against those involved in current disputes police can restore quiet to the streets. We hope too that this year ends with significantly fewer homicides. A country our size should have 15 to 20 murders or fewer per year based on internationally aspired to standards. We are far away from where we should be.

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