More killings likely, but crime strategy working, says minister
Despite a spree of murders over two consecutive weekends, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said yesterday that police detection rate is at its highest in years.
“As I said before, when you compare last year this time, with this year, the numbers are down significantly,” he said outside Cabinet.
“Last year, 2018, in January we had 12 homicides… We are now in the middle of February, we had 10.
“Yes, what happened on the weekend was very unfortunate and to some extent would have evoked a certain level of fear, but remember we are looking at the motives in connection to these matters, so we’re already beginning to follow some leads in connection with them.”
Four people were murdered in separate incidents on New Providence over the weekend, police said.
The weekend prior, three men were shot and killed in separate incidents just hours apart.
The latest murder occurred last night in the area of the roundabout at Fox Hill, pushing the murder count for the year to 11.
While there were seven murders in the first 10 days of February, there were three murders for the entire month of January.
Dames said the shootings from the previous weekend have all been cleared and individuals have already been arraigned.
He added that police are already following significant leads in connection to the most recent killings.
“These matters are, in a sense, matters that are isolated to individuals who may have had conflict for whatever reason,” Dames said.
“We are looking into trying to make a full determination, the police that is, as to how these matters would have occurred.
“We are confident in our strategy and we feel like our strategy is, in fact, working.”
Dames said that the country is now seeing the highest clearance rate in a very long time, proving that police are doing their jobs.
He noted while the Ministry of National Security is taking a holistic approach to fighting crime through several different initiatives, that is not a long-term fix. He noted that the root problems that often begin in the home also have to be addressed.
“So, let’s prepare ourselves, there will be more homicides,” he said.
“Our goal is to reduce the level of homicides that we are seeing.”
Asked yesterday whether police have determined if the most recent weekend incidents were the result of retaliation, Dames said, “I don’t want to get into the motives, but, as I said, there is a common thread here and a trend that you see when you see incidents like this.
“It’s usually a conflict between young men who may be associated with different groups, whether it’s because of proximity to one another or whether it’s because of some feud over something that often results in this and the accessibility to firearms. Already for the year police would have, I don’t know what the numbers are, but every week when I get updates they are taking firearms off the street.
“And, so, people are seeing this. They are living in communities. They are living in homes and oftentimes with their parents, [so] we need more people to stand up and be counted.”
Dames also noted that police have to address incidents that happen at nightclubs with no interference from club owners.
“We have stuff like someone killed at a club [and] obviously an argument had to ensue before the person was shot,” he said.
“What’s the responsibility of the club owner? We are gong to be going after these individuals in a very tough way.
“If you have a club, you’re supposed to be closed at two in the morning, but you’re still open, people are meandering about, fighting, and then someone pulls a gun out. What’s the responsibility of the owner?
“There’s been situations where people would have left, tell the guy, ‘I’m coming back for you’, in front of the club owners, but no one calls the police.
“…So, it’s all about us understanding our roles and responsibilities. And until we come to that point, I’ll be giving you these stand up commentaries on a regular basis.”