Dames points to importance of tech and civilians in crime fight

Amid increased concern about home invasions, armed robberies and other serious crimes, the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) is developing a multi-pronged approach to improve its efficiency; including the development of a real-time crime center that will be driven by technology, and civilianizing parts of their operations so that more officers can hit the streets, National Security Minister Marvin Dames said.

“Police are working on what they refer to as a real-time crime center now where everything will be piped in to the real crime center. They can see the entire New Providence and they can now direct patrols,” said Dames, who was a guest on The Revolution with host Juan McCartney on Guardian Radio 96.9 FM on Monday.

“Let’s say if ShotSpotter is triggered in Fox Hill, that will send a message to a drone that’s up in the air, that will automatically send a message. All of the cameras in the area will zero in on where that trigger is coming from and the drones will be smart enough to move in the area exactly where it is. And so, there is a strategy behind our approach to technology.”

Dames said involving more civilians in police operations in also a critical component of the force’s development strategy, particularly as the force expands its operations.

Last September, the government signed a contract for 507 CCTV cameras. Dames said a local company has been selected to install the cameras in various crime hotspots around New Providence. He said the police force is also looking for civilians to monitor the feed.

“So, we’re looking at employing civilians and training them,” Dames added. “I don’t want us to invest in police officers to sit behind cameras.

“We’re working on a strategy to get police officers on the streets. So, in areas like police control room, we’re civilianizing the police control room.”

As for the drones, which were also acquired recently, Dames said they will be used by multiple agencies.

“So, it’ll be the police, the defense force, customs and immigration and other government agencies like Lands and Surveys and Ministry of Transport…,” he said.

“We know from [Hurricane] Dorian, we had to do [a] significant amount of mapping and we relied heavily on drones. The drones that we are acquiring will be of a higher grade and will be able to offer a lot more.”

In December, the government signed a $17 million contract with Swift Engineering, Inc. for 55 unmanned aerial drones.

Meantime, Dames said the government is also still considering whether it will purchase a helicopter. However, he said maintenance costs and other concerns have to be examined before any investment is made.

“For a country our size we have to take all of these things into consideration and see what is better,” he added.

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Krystel Brown

Krystel covers breaking news for The Nassau Guardian. Krystel also manages The Guardian’s social media pages. She joined The Nassau Guardian in 2007 as a staff reporter, covering national news. She was promoted to online editor in May 2017. Education: Benedict College, BA in Mass Communications

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