Open Letter To Commissioner Greenslade

Dear Commissioner Greenslade,

Try as I might, I cannot take comfort from the crime statistics announced by you and released by the Royal Bahamas Police Force yesterday which indicate a continuing decline in the number of murders in our country – and presumably reduced crime generally.

Those of us who live in New Providence know that incidents of serious crime are not declining.

The number of murders or unlawful deaths cannot be the measure of the success or failure of anti-crime initiatives.

Honest, accurate tallying of incidents of crime will contribute to building the trust of the people in the integrity of national agencies like the Police Force.

This in turn would encourage more people to cooperate with the police and become active partners with the police in fighting criminality.

The manipulation of crime statistics has no useful purpose other than to feed distrust in the police and indeed, in the Government.

A case in point is statistics involving murder, the most serious of crimes.

A close review of unlawful deaths reported in our daily newspapers since January 2013 reveal some 55 incidents of reported unlawful deaths.

This number does not include three reported police-involved deaths: the shooting death of a 35-year-old man in Abaco (reportedly in a case of mistaken identity) and the two deaths of men in police custody.

One of the custody deaths has been determined to be unlawful by the Coroner’s Court. The other remains before the Coroner’s Court.

Also not included in my count of 55 are deaths reported in our newspapers of two Caucasian males whose bodies were recovered from waters off Andros early in January of this year.

I have been unable to find any report verifying how these men met their deaths.

Autopsies were performed on the bodies which would certainly have indicated at a minimum whether the men met their death by drowning and whether there were any tell-tale signs that suggest that the men may have been involved in a violent altercation before their deaths.

In this regard, it may be useful for the public to be informed of the names of the victims identified as murder victims by the police as well as the names of others found dead or who subsequently died from injuries resulting from acts of violence and whose deaths may be classified as something other than murder.

Mr Commissioner, you will note that my total of 55 murders is six more than the 49 reported by you yesterday. It is 11 more than your number if account is taken of the three police-involved killing and the two male bodies found off Andros in January.

It would be helpful if you would advise where in your calculation of 49 murders I would find the 55 or 61 murders that I calculated from police reports to the newspapers.

Am I to conclude that the difference between my calculation and that of the police statistics released yesterday is made-up from deaths by natural causes?

In any event, I was not aware that death by natural cause was reported to the media by the police.

Finally, may we please have an accurate assessment of the number of persons who met their deaths as the result of unlawful acts during the past five months beginning on 1 January 2013?

I remain in hopeful anticipation of greater transparency and accountability from the police force.

Concerned Nassauvian
May, 2013