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Downward murder trend holding

A major positive trend is underway that all right-thinking Bahamians should be pleased with regardless of party affiliation or like or dislike of Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis. Murders are down by 32 percent for the year.

There’s been a violent crime crisis the past decade. Between 2007 and 2017 there were five murder records.

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.

The majority of these murders happened in New Providence. Our main island is a high crime jurisdiction with significant drug trafficking and gang activity, high unemployment, and low levels of education.

Police Superintendent Dr. Chaswell Hanna, who may be a future commissioner of police, wrote a study, “Solutions to the Murder Problem”.

Many of the young men who are killed are involved in disputes with other young men. Some are over drugs; some are gang related; some are silly differences between young men. In Hanna’s book – between 2010 and 2015 – there were 719 murders, and 25 percent resulted from arguments.

The victims’ friends want revenge – 25 percent of the killings were retaliations.

It’s unclear why murders are down so much this year – in fact, the trend begun at the end of 2017. Explaining significant crime shifts is complicated.

New York City has experienced an extraordinary drop in homicides. There were 2,245 killings there in 1990. Last year there were 292. Crime in the city is down to levels not seen since the 1950s.

Books have been written about why murders declined so much in America’s most populated city. Theories are posited, but no one is sure why.

Whatever the reason here, we hope the trend continues. Our country, more specifically New Providence, is too violent.

Minister of National Security Marvin Dames and Commissioner Anthony Ferguson seem a good team in the crime fight. Dames is a former deputy commissioner who was once considered for the post of commissioner.

Ferguson has said they continue to target prolific offenders and gangs. That coupled with increased police presence, targeting night clubs and intelligence-based operations, have contributed to a decrease in crime, particularly murders, according to the commissioner.

Based on international benchmarks, there should be 20 or fewer murders in The Bahamas per year. Even if we have a 30 percent reduction this year, we have a long way to go to get where we should be.

Nonetheless, we should celebrate what is on track to be the first major decline in killings in a decade. We hope this positive trend holds for a long, long time.

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