Need For More Effective Policing

I have procrastinated long enough with this. During the month of January, I witnessed three young men rough up and rob a young man at a bus stop on Farrington Road. Despite verbal attempts by me and others, who paused to witness the evil act, the perpetrators did not stop until they had taken all items of value. These included his shades, monies and cell phone.  After they took all of his possessions and ran, the young man decided to run after them.

After witnessing this evil act, I drove east to the end of Farrington Road. I then turned around and drove the entire length of Farrington Road, onto JFK Drive as far as Prospect Ridge. Sadly, I did not see one Police vehicle, and this is a common occurrence. Can we please ask Commissioner Greenslade if this is his idea of “effective policing?”

We saw several weeks ago how they ensured that ZNS covered the story when a patrol car just happened to be on the scene when the young man attempted to stab his ex to death. In that particular incident, the young lady was blessed, but in the vast majority of cases there is no patrol car in the vicinity. We must not allow ourselves to be brainwashed by what they feed us. The fact of the matter is that, despite the new patrol cars and motorbikes, our police force continues to perform poorly. Our streets are plagued with road rage, and disregard and/or disrespect for others is the order of the day. It is common to witness people run traffic lights with reckless abandon. In the United States and other developed countries it is common to see police cars and speed cops patrolling every major street and crime ridden areas.

This is effective policing as it is a deterrent to criminal activity and traffic offenders. It also reduces the time it takes the first responder to arrive at a crime scene. What is common in our country however is to see police cars being used as personal transportation. Persons have told me of things they have witnessed being done in these cars, and I encourage them to tell the nation via talk shows and yourselves. It is therefore no surprise to hear persons call the shows complaining that police stations tell them there are no cars available to respond to their urgent matters. This needs to be corrected forthwith!

In an effort to ensure his safety, I notice that the parents of the aforementioned young man have resorted to dropping him to work. It bothers me to see the same three young men walking about as though they have done no wrong, perhaps scouting prospective prey. We are mindful that the crime wave speaks to the moral and spiritual decay in our country that also needs to be addressed. This, however, does not negate the lack of effective policing.

Operation Rapid Strike is good in its place as a piece of the puzzle. Effective policing however is a daily, pro-active exercise. We are aware that the police control room is capable of monitoring the whereabouts of every patrol car, yet for some strange reason it is not being done. The control room needs to be managed by committed, seasoned, impartial officers. It must be made crystal clear, if you are not on official police business, you should not be in possession of a police vehicle. The fact of the matter is we have a lot of officers at all ranks that are not committed to doing the job for which they are being paid.

I would be remiss if I did not say a few words about the difference in the way traffic flows when there is police interference.

Most of us have accepted the fact that heavy traffic is synonymous with the large population on such a small island.

What is also a fact is that even during rush hour, there are very few places where there is no consistency in the flow of traffic.

These include areas in the east such as Seabreeze where I’ve heard persons call radio stations and ask for Police assistance with the traffic flow.

Whenever we sit in traffic without movement for minutes, we can rest assured that there is either an accident or Police interference. We can attest to the fact that there is generally an orderly flow of traffic at roundabouts and areas where there are working traffic lights. There is no need for Police interference in these areas. This includes the junction at Bay and Frederick Streets where the traffic is always severely backlogged and moves very, very slowly, when directed by them. I recall the police doing this in  the 1970’s, and it worked well back then as there was very little traffic. We must appreciate that it is very counter-productive today. They can, however, assist persons with when to cross the street in light of the fact that our “walk/don’t walk” signs do not work. They should also keep a keen eye on offenders to the orderly flow of traffic. I encourage the commissioner and his team to study the way the traffic-moves with and without them, with the view of minimising their interference to areas where traffic flow is stifled. I have heard numerous persons call talk shows and radio stations in general and complain about this over the past few years to no avail. It is high time that we as a people activate an effective neutralizer for the arrogance and blatant disregard for what we say is demonstrated by our police and politicians.

In conclusion, I encourage all of us to praise our police when they perform well. We must also sound the alarm when they are not performing up to par until they get it right.

Other concerns include corruption in the complaints unit, dereliction of duty, and the general disrespect given to the average Bahamian.

We, the people of the Bahamas deserve better and we need to know if Commissioner Greenslade and Minister Turnquest are capable of getting the job done. These are just a few reasons why we must mandate that the Commissioner of Police be chosen by us.

Concerned Citizen
Nassau, The Bahamas
April, 2011