Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) Commodore Raymond King said he expects a “drastic turnaround” in the crime situation on Abaco given a change in strategy by law enforcement agencies.
“We appreciate stakeholders’ concerns, in terms of, even if the numbers may have declined, it’s the items that are being stolen that raises the concern.
“But we are working closely with the Royal Bahamas Police Force. We are sharing our resources and the public will see a drastic turnaround. Boots are on the ground. The presence is being felt.”
King’s comments came amid complaints of widespread crime on the island in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, especially in the past few months. Some weeks ago, Abaco Chamber of Commerce Director Krista Albury highlighted crime as one of the biggest challenges facing Abaconians who are trying to rebuild.
Following her comments, Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle provided statistics that indicated a decrease in crime on Abaco compared to 2019. Rolle’s comments prompted ire among Abaconians, who said many crimes go unreported because people have lost faith in the police response.
Many residents detailed their personal experiences with crime, noting that the frequent theft of generators and building supplies is hampering reconstruction.
King said there are 47 defense force officers on the island, working with police to address the issues.
“Post-Dorian, we had persons spread throughout central, north and south Abaco,” he said.
“But the role and function that they performed at that time was humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and really assisting with a lot of food and supplies distribution.
“That has since stopped. So, now those persons will be reassigned. So, as more police move into those areas, in terms of the defense force, we will move those persons, central them so that they can assist directly with addressing the issues that the public [has].”
Last Tuesday, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames, fresh off a visit to Abaco, said that adjustments were made to the policing strategy on the island.
Dames, Rolle and King visited the island to meet with officials and residents last week.
“…For law enforcement and for every other agency, we have to continue to look at how we’re operating,” Dames said.
“Things are dynamic on the ground. [We have to] make adjustments when necessary.”
Last September, parts of Abaco and Grand Bahama were obliterated by Hurricane Dorian. In the wake of the storm, there were widespread reports of looting on the island of Abaco. Many said theft on the island never stopped.