Given recent revelations by the commissioner of police with regard to the correlation of the majority of people who were murdered this year being out on bail for serious offenses, a concerted strategy to address the issue of bail must be articulated by the government. The commissioner also noted that the majority of murders are gang- affiliated. The attorney general last week said that the government is also looking at the penal code with regard to gang offenses that might require a standalone bill. The fact of the matter is that these laws already exist. While we do not expect police to tip their hand as to sensitive intelligence, we have not gotten a sense that the emphasis on utilizing the existing statute is occurring. Showing connections to others charged with serious crimes and the frequency with which gang members kill and are killed would make sense from a prosecution standpoint. While the issue of bail is a constitutional right, so is the right to a speedy trial. The government must carefully consider improving the function of our court system with regard to remuneration of judges and other resources.
We are also very concerned about the uptick in armed robberies targeting law-abiding citizens. One of the simplest tools to deter crimes of opportunity that armed robbers often seek to perpetrate is police visibility. Even though resources are strained, the government has committed to putting police in schools. We think police resources dedicated to more robust patrolling in general would be much more useful. This cycle of violence is becoming a way of life and death for too many. We cannot tire in this fight and we must all stay vigilant as stakeholders. As always, the opposition stands with the police and the government with regard to public safety and order in our beautiful Bahamas.
Dr. Shanendon E. Cartwright
Deputy Leader Free National Movement/ Member of Parliament – St.Barnabas