NASSAU — In the face of the recent dramatic rise in murders and violent attacks, National Security Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage yesterday announced that all police officers on New Providence will immediately be placed on 12-hour shifts.
Additionally, he said 150 defence force marines will be immediately deployed to assist with the crime fight.
“This will have the effect of doubling the number of officers on the frontline,”‚he said during a press conference at police headquarters.
“Secondly, all officers on the police band, as a consequence of this, have been deployed to front line policing. Further, I wish to advise members of the public that for the time being, all requests for the use of the police band have been suspended.”
The announcement of the initiatives, which all took effect today, came as Nottage acknowledged that gang and turf wars have fuelled the recent increase in violence. In the past two weeks, 13 people have been murdered.
Nottage added that police officers serving in administrative and support service capacities will also be deployed to the front line.
He said a police superintendent has been charged to take over the firearms and tracing investigation unit. That superintendent will be joined by a team of weapons experts and sharp shooters. Nottage said this will result in an increase in the firearms unit by 100 per cent.
The minister said significant resources have been added to the Homicide Unit of the Central Detective Unit. The Armed Robbery Unit and Drug Enforcement Unit have also be adjusted and enhanced, he said.
The marines will be deployed to execute sedentary and other duties normally carried out by members of the police force so that the maximum number of police officers who have been trained to fight crime and enforce law and are deployed to the front line, according to Nottage.
The initiatives will result in an increase of up to 350 officers on the front lines, Nottage said.
“We must and will flush out from among us the criminals along with their illegal firearms and drugs which seem to be fuelling crime,” he said.
As it relates to resources, Nottage said the government has ordered additional patrol cars and has pledged to provide the force with additional man power and resources as needed.
“The Government of The Bahamas is deeply troubled by the murders that have taken place in our country and what appears to be the wanton disregard for human life, law and order,” Nottage said. “The violence and lawlessness poses a very real danger to our peace and stability.
“This situation cannot continue like this without a response commensurate with the wanton acts of violence and lawlessness. It must be a response that will halt the current spike in criminal activity in general, and murders in particular, in the shortest possible time.” (Nassau Guardian)