Saturday, Aug 24, 2019
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Police force has important role to play in downtown success

Yesterday we discussed the historic opportunity for Nassau, our city center on the island of New Providence. On Sunday the government announced the Global Ports Holding-led project was selected as the successful bidder for the $250 million redevelopment and management of the Port of Nassau.

Global Ports is expected to create a modern, world-class port, including a Junkanoo museum and amphitheater. Additionally, the redeveloped area will accommodate eight cruise ships instead of the current six.

This is part of a wave of investment in downtown. There is also The Pointe, a $200 million hotel, condo, retail shopping area and entertainment project; the new Central Bank at Victoria Gardens; the $224 million American Embassy; a new Supreme Court at East Hill Street; and a potential contract for the upgrade and management of Junkanoo Beach.

If all, or even most, of these projects are completed Nassau would be transformed into a much more vibrant and attractive city.

For the downtown revival to be a success, however, security is critical.

In recent years the Royal Bahamas Police Force upped its presence downtown. At best, officers were on foot patrol at most intersections. They could even be seen walking in two-man patrols south, down from Government House.

Visible police presence is a proven deterrent to crime. The problem downtown has been police presence is inconsistent. The numbers go up. They go down. A good thing is started, then it fades.

With all the investment coming, with the Port of Nassau welcoming north of 2.6 million people annually, with more night entertainment emerging and likely increased overnight cruise ship stays, the police force must dedicate the proper resources to the area around the clock and consistently.

Crime is a threat to the downtown revival. Some of these major projects could fail just because of safety issues.

Currently, downtown is not dangerous. But we must anticipate its security needs going forward with expansion and not wait until high-profile crimes occur to respond.

Keeping the right compliment of officers on the streets of the City of Nassau consistently would significantly diminish the number of people frequenting the area for nefarious purposes.

With what is proposed we may be near the revival of Nassau that has been discussed for decades. We hope the police force is preparing to step up its efforts to make sure this growing economic engine for the country is protected and known as a safe place to visit and live.

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