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Commissioner pleased with police force performance in 2019

Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson said he is pleased with the way the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) performed in 2019 and that he could not have asked anything else from the officers.

He made the comments to reporters on the sidelines of the New Year’s Day Junkanoo Parade, where he also noted crime had been low for that night except for a “minor incident”.

“First of all, let me wish everybody a very Happy New Year,” Ferguson said. “During the course of the night, it’s been relatively quiet both down here on the parade route and Over-the-Hill.

“Except for one minor incident where you had a small group of youngsters acting disorderly in the back of an area in Market Street and Trinity Avenue area. Police officers were on site to quickly break it up; [they] took those lil’ young thugs away to make sure people continue to enjoy the parade.

“So, I’m extremely pleased with the way things have gone so far and trust that by the end of the day, when this parade is over, we should have a very good parade.

“I personally walked the parade route myself to ensure that I did my own assessment, so that’s why I can speak to the fact that so far we’ve had a pretty good parade.”

In the aftermath of the parade, videos circulated on social media purportedly involving the police force.

In one video, a struggle of some kind seems to be underway as purported police officers with batons strike members of a group. One of the persons struck is then seen being detained by two of the purported officers and escorted from the scene. It appears to be taking place in the vicinity of the Junkanoo parade route.

In another video, a group of people are seen lined against a wall in what appears to be the vicinity of Bay Street as a purported officer begins to strike them with a baton, one-by-one, before letting them walk away.

It is not clear if both videos featured the same group, or if either was the group of youngsters that Ferguson was referring to.

While Ferguson noted that the crime rate for 2019 was higher than in 2018, he said, “You can always say things what you would like to do and I think you have to be optimistic about these things, but you have to appreciate and understand that only the good Lord can predict the future.

“But I believe I can say that the officers performed exceptionally well. I had indicated in a much earlier report that up to the first of September the murder count was at 61, and once Hurricane Dorian hit we had to adjust our policing strategy and so September and October we saw some increases in there. But immediately after, we adjusted our program…”

The 2019 murder count of 96 was a 5.5 percent increase over the 2018 tally.

The Bahamas experienced its lowest murder count in nine years in 2018, with 91 murders for the year, a 25 percent decrease compared to 2017, which saw 122 murders.

Until August, the count had continued to show a decrease. However, September was a particularly bloody month with 11 people killed in 11 days.

“So, I am very pleased. I cannot ask for anything else out of the officers – they performed exceptionally well having to police New Providence and [after the] Hurricane Dorian tragedy in Abaco,” Ferguson said.

For the year ahead, he said he does not really have a wish for the force but rather that “I would really wish that these young criminals behave themselves and so decent people can move about freely and enjoy this commonwealth of The Bahamas that God gave us”.

Meanwhile, he has maintained his silence concerning the saga involving Assistant Commissioner of Police Ken Strachan.

Strachan recently initiated legal action against Ferguson and the attorney general regarding being placed on leave in March 2019, being appointed chief of security at juvenile schools upon his return from leave last month and being locked out of police systems.

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