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The precipitous drop in murders no one is talking about

Dear Editor,

Is it only me or has anyone else noticed the precipitous drop in murders? You wouldn’t know this judging from all the negativity in the press. Certain unscrupulous individuals are hell-bent on not seeing the forest from the trees for political purposes. Bahamians are a negative set of people, despite the murder situation finally trending in the right direction, after a decade-and-a-half of being submerged in a bloodbath.

The recent murders of Defence Force Petty Officer Philip Perpall and Perry Rolle Jr. were indeed tragic, as were the 1,500-plus murders over the past 19 years. Bahamians must stand in solidarity with the grieving families in prayer and intercession. Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal. The deaths of Perpall and Rolle should not be used as a political football, despite the criminal elements murdering Bahamians indiscriminately; not regarding their political persuasion.

I know there’s the temptation by Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) supporters to use the Perpall murder in order to gain much-needed political mileage, as successive official oppositions have done since the tenure of former PLP National Security Minister Cynthia “Mother” Pratt in the first Christie government (2002-2007).

Mother Pratt was a physical educator teacher. Her successor, the Free National Movement’s (FNM) Tommy Turnquest, is a banker. His successor, Bernard Nottage, was a medical doctor. The current National Security Minister Marvin Dames is the first law enforcement officer to hold that substantive post. I remember both Pratt and Nottage being labeled as the worst national security ministers in history – the latter being raked over the coals by former PLP State Minister for National Security Keith Bell. It was all political rhetoric of course. With his experience in law enforcement, the Christie administration should’ve appointed Bell as the substantive national security minister, rather than a gynecologist. Hindsight is always 20/20. Nottage and his predecessors all seem to have been out of their depth.

Dames has been embroiled in what I call Hannagate. However, with only 23 murders recorded in the first four months of 2019, the crime-fighting policies of the embattled national security minister are bearing tangible fruit. If we continue on the current pace, 2019 will record just 55 murders – six less than the 61 murders recorded in 2006 – 13 years ago. With a population the size of The Bahamas’, 55 is still too high. But considering the record-breaking years of 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2015, 55 murders is low by our current standards, all things considered.

For instance, in July 2011, 21 people were murdered. 2011 was the final full year of the last Ingraham government. There were 127 murders committed that year. I remember former PLP Leader Perry Christie holding an important press conference after the murder count had reached the century mark for the first time in 2011. He used that conference to pitch his Urban Renewal 2.0 platform. Under Urban Renewal 2.0, however, 600 murders were committed. In 2015, 146 murders were committed. That was under Christie’s watch. In order to put those 146 murders into perspective, it means that a little over 12 people were murdered for each month of 2015. Accordingly, we can now state confidently that the award-winning Urban Renewal 2.0 initiative flopped in the worst possible way.

Look, the PLP has an important job of holding the Free National Movement administration accountable. But I don’t believe the party can beat the incumbent by talking about the murders. Those 600 murders are still fresh in the minds of the Bahamian people.

Any criticism about the murder situation from that party would be like Giacomo Casanova complaining about the high prevalence of sexual promiscuity, with all due respect. In the meantime, Bahamians, while praying for an ideal situation where there are zero murders, must nevertheless be grateful to God for finally lowering the excessively high murder rate. Whatever Dames and the top brass at the Royal Bahamas Police Force are doing, I encourage them to continue doing it. So far, it seems to be working.

– Kevin Evans

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