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Dames: Police force moving toward civilianization

The government intends to have civilians monitor additional CCTV centers as it moves to the civilianization of the police force, said Minister of National Security Marvin Dames yesterday.

Civilianization is a process of replacing police officers with civilian staff who have either no police powers or limited police powers in order to provide either administrative or specialist support to policing.

Speaking on the expansion of the CCTV program following the signing of a $1.9 million contract with ShotSpotter Technology, Dames said, “That’s one of the areas that the public can expect an infusion of civilians to support the police. 

“It’s now being managed by police.

“It is our intentions during this upcoming fiscal period to ensure that we move the police officers out there and put civilians in there to manage the system.”

When asked whether consideration is being given to hire a private company, Dames said, “Not at this time. We have to be able to preserve and manage because everything that is being recorded could lead to evidence and we want to be able to ensure that the chain of custody is not compromised in any way.

“And so areas like this would be what I would refer to as vetted units. Not just hiring someone and saying, ‘Okay, you go in the room.’ But that person or those persons will have to go through a series of vetting before they are hired to work within that center.”

Dames said civilianization has been a topic of longtime discussions.

“We are budgeting now for civilianization,” he said.

“We had the discussions with the police and the defense force in getting them to understand that civilians [are] no different than someone in uniform.

“I recalled many years ago when I was in the police force, when the then government attempted civilianization, it was met with significant resistance. But we have to move beyond that point. We need our officers on the streets.

“And, so, we are going to use civilians to help drive a lot of these initiatives behind the scenes.

“And in some areas we will use a mixture of civilians and police officers.”

The government launched the first phase of the CCTV program in 2012 with the installation of 243 cameras positioned in hot spot areas throughout New Providence.

The Minnis administration has launched an expansion of that program which will add an additional 507 cameras along with 92 ShotSpotter sensors.

Dames said the RFP for those cameras is already out and the process will span about three weeks to a month.

“This particular phase will allow us to cover a tremendous amount of ground,” he said.

“And, so, the objective here is, we are not acquiring this technology in isolation.

“The objective is they will work in unison. And, so, if you have where someone fires a gun, ShotSpotter picks it up within 60 seconds and the camera triangulates so both the camera and the technology will shift toward where that shot is coming from, and that’s the objective.”

The government has allotted $3 million in the 2018/2019 budget for the CCTV initiative.

Sloan Smith

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Sloan covers national news for The Nassau Guardian. Sloan officially joined the news team in September 2016 but interned at The Nassau Guardian while studying journalism at the University of The Bahamas.
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications

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