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Police frustration at bail releases

Fernander says putting suspects back on streets hampering crime fight

Commissioner of Police Clayton Fernander yesterday expressed frustrations over individuals on bail who he said are committing more crimes, and questioned why they continue to be released.

“We seek them out and put them where they belong,” said Fernander at a press conference at police headquarters in Nassau.

He noted yesterday that police recovered eight guns – one of which was an AR-15 high powered rifle – over the last week.

Police had the weapons laid out as the police commissioner addressed reporters.

“All of these weapons now, there’s a body to all of them,” he said, explaining that suspects were arrested in relation to all of the weapons.

“Why should that individual continue to get bail? Swift justice [is] within two weeks … if he’s lucky to get off, then fine. But I see no reason why we can’t move swiftly with that.

“It’s only the police and forensic – that’s all. That’s two to three officers. Why should we keep giving these individuals bail?

“You’re talking about matters dragged on for two years and three years and within that two, three years, that same individual committing another crime. C’mon, man. Something is wrong with that.”

Successive commissioners of police have lamented the issue of so-called prolific offenders being released on bail to commit further crimes.

But the bail issue and legislative changes over the years have remained controversial given that suspects have a constitutional right to be tried within a reasonable period of time.

The judicial system has been plagued by a chronic backlog of cases preventing many suspects from getting early trial dates.

Many end up on bail. Police say this contributes significantly to high crime rates.

The Bahamas – in particular New Providence – continues to experience significant levels of violent crime.

There have been at least 95 murders so far this year, up 17 percent over the same period in 2021.

Police say many of those murders were the result of gang violence as gangs continue to clash over drugs and turf.

Since becoming commissioner in July, Fernander has committed to addressing gun violence by intercepting illegal guns entering the country.

Speaking yesterday, he said, “The intel is coming in and we are executing and we are making some great headway as we continue to move.

“The task force which is focusing on firearm trafficking, their office, which is right below us, should be ready within the next two to three weeks and the Bahamian people will know exactly how we are going to be operating.”

Fernander said a gang unit has also been launched on Grand Bahama, where there are three active gangs.

“You know, that’s a wide area,” he said.

“You have the container port where thousands of containers come through there every day and, based on our intel, we believe that firearms [do as well].

“The record is there where we arrested persons coming right through the container port and even our domestic area at Grand Bahama.

“Firearms are getting into our country. So we feel good where we are. We are on the right track and we just have to be consistent in our execution.”

Fernander said Bain Town remains a hotspot for guns and drugs in New Providence.

He said there is a small group of people “who continue to wreak havoc” in that area.

“We know who they are and that’s why we continue to go after them; to disrupt it,” Fernander said.

Kemp Road is another area of concern for police.

He said three of the eight guns recovered recently were recovered in Kemp Road.

Fernander also highlighted Nassau Village, Pinewood Gardens and Yellow Elder as hotspots, though he noted that Yellow Elder and other parts of Mount Moriah have experiences a decline in crime.

“We are not going to let our guards down because it’s quiet,” Fernander said.

“We will continue to have our presence throughout. As our statistics speak to us, we move our resources to those areas.”

Fernander said police will remain visible and will continue “aggressive” stop and searches because some individuals move around New Providence with illegal guns in their vehicles.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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