Progress, but still too many killings

Clearly another gangland dispute has emerged.

The murder count for The Bahamas for the year so far is 89. The count last year this time was 121. The count this year climbed by 11 in 15 days.

Nonetheless, this year there still has been a major decline in killings, thus far.

In 2008, 73 people were murdered in The Bahamas. By 2015 that number doubled to a record 146.

From 2011 to 2017, more than 100 people were murdered each year. This high rate of killing happened in an archipelago with a population of just 350,000.

In truth, it’s inaccurate to say “The Bahamas” has a murder problem. New Providence does.

Between 2010 and 2015, there were 719 murders in The Bahamas. Of that total, 627 were in New Providence (87 percent).

Despite the high number of killings the past two weeks, based on the current count and trend it is possible we could end 2018 with the fewest recorded murders since 2009, when there were 85.

If the tit-for-tat killings of the past two weeks end, we would have made progress this year. Yet, based on international benchmarks we would still have a long way to go. The Bahamas should have 20 or fewer murders annually.

While it is important to analyze statistical trends, we must not forget each victim is a person with a story.

Not long before a 24-year-old woman was shot on New Hope Drive in Joan’s Heights, along with her boyfriend shortly after midnight on Tuesday, she spoke with her twin sister and sounded happy about life.

The next thing Kellisha Richards knew is that she was at the hospital hearing the horrific news of the death of her sister, Kevisha Richards.

Police said Richards and James Johnson, 29, had just arrived at a home when they were approached by “unknown persons”, who shot them.

The young woman ran from the vehicle and collapsed a short distance away, according to police.

Johnson crashed into a wall as he attempted to drive away. He died at the scene.

Richards said she was struggling to come to terms with the senseless killing of her sister.

“Well, [the family is] crying. They sound like they want to pass out, but me, I’m not doing too well,” she said.

“I actually want to take my life too because she was all I had. She was my all. She was my everything. Sometimes I felt like I loved her more than me.”

There were five murder records between 2007 and 2017. We lost too many young people the past decade to senseless violence. We lost too many people this year because of senseless violence. Scores of others were maimed, now living with all manner of disabilities.

No one has said the crime fight was won just because of one better year. The police and Ministry of National Security admit there is still far too much crime in The Bahamas. But progress appears to be taking place, and progress happens in stages.

We appeared to be on a path to slowing the rate of homicides in 2018. Let’s hope we get back on that path for the remainder of the year, and that there is a further reduction in 2019.

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