Op-Ed

Police walking a tightrope 

Earlier in the week, when Minister of National Security Wayne Munroe advised Bahamians to brace for more police-involved shootings as the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) strengthened and enhanced resources to combat increased levels of crime in The Bahamas, I knew there would be a myriad of questions arising from the court of public opinion on this one.

Speaking with The Nassau Guardian, Munroe stated, “We can expect them to have more manpower resources. That will not stop people who have decided that either, one, they are going to be involved deliberately in gangs and engaged in street wars or, as we have been seeing in some of the homicides, people just don’t seem to be able to control their temper and stab people over a fight or shoot people over a fight.

“That won’t stop it. The police apprehending them, being more on the spot, won’t stop it. The more resources the police have to be available on the spot may actually have the effect of you having more police-involved shootings which the public should prepare itself for.

“The incoming commissioner has forewarned that as the police get more resources, to be more saturated on the streets, as people decide to continue to drive around with firearms, there is an ability for them to get into conflict with police with the intended result.

“And so, we have said, at this moment, as they get more resources – manpower and otherwise – the public ought to be aware that that may be something that may happen.”

My what a “Walenda” like tightrope the minister of national security and the RBPF must walk in this regard.

There is no room for extra-judicial killings in our nation, nor the potential thought. Period!

The murder count currently stands at 75 for 2022, with most murders occurring in New Providence.

At this current pace, the record of 146 murders in a year will be surpassed.

Newly appointed Commissioner of Police Clayton Fernander, despite exercising his right to remain silent regarding his recent legal settlement from the government, reiterated that all police-involved shootings must be justified.

“It has to be justified, not going to be that officers will go out there and just target individuals.” he said.

“You will never see that. We are trained and professional officers so you won’t see that happening. But they have to protect not only you but themselves.”

Fernander also commented on the recent spate of murders, all while reinforcing the narrative of the minister of national security.

There were 20 police-involved shootings recorded last year and 20 recorded in 2020, according to police statistics; additionally inquests into many of these police-involved shootings have still not been heard due to a significant backlog at the Coroner’s Court.

I would much rather hear a weekly crime-related report from Commissioner Fernander, with body and dash cam footage from the officers in question accompanying his report.

So there is no longer a gray area in relation to police arrests, suspects in custody, and police-involved killings, in the line of duty, in The Bahamas.

We need no incidents eerily similar to extra-judicial killings, as seen in South America and the Philippines.

And again, for the record, there is no place in any civilized society for that, especially in The Bahamas.

Now the waiting game continues for the crime-fighting resources we, the taxpayers, footed the bill on – the same resources a certain recently elected administration campaigned on, especially their proper usage.

These resources include officer body cams, Shot Spotter and drones to be used effectively and efficiently, serving their intended purposes in the fight against crime.

Meanwhile, the public continues to cry out against potential police brutality and police-involved shootings.

Until next week, I will leave you with this: “True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it’s the presence of justice.” – Dr. Martin Luther King

– Inigo “Naughty” Zenicaze- laya is the host of radio show “Talking Heads” on Guardian Radio.

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