Brave Davis: Looking for a Real Plan to Fight Crime?

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Hon. Philip Brave Davis

COMMENTARY

This summer, the Progressive Liberal Party released a tough, innovative and comprehensive plan to fight crime. We are calling for an updated Urban Renewal programme, implementation of Swift Justice, a new Operation Cease Fire initiative to break the cycle of violence, and a range of other proposals focused on crime prevention, prosecution, punishment and rehabilitation – you’ll find the details on our website, at myplp.org, and PLP candidates are sharing copies of the plan in their constituencies.

We are clear: reducing violence must be a top priority for the nation.

Bahamians could be forgiven for wondering whether the Prime Minister agrees. Back from an extended summer vacation, Mr. Ingraham finally – six months after promising to do so – got around to addressing the nation on crime, and came up with….not very much.

The PLP has said that several of the PM’s ideas are reasonable and will find support from our party; we are always looking for common ground in the battle against crime. We also said the proposals in the PM’s address were “too little, too late”. Perhaps we should have been more emphatic, because the truth is the PM’s ideas are much too little, much too late.

With an entire generation and the nation’s families at risk, the Prime Minister proposed $1 million for new social intervention efforts…that’s $5 million less than his government spent on Miss Universe!

Not the type to accept responsibility for errors, the Prime Minister left unmentioned the national consensus that his government made a grave mistake when they gutted Urban Renewal. The PLP’s pioneering program won international awards and – more importantly – broad support from Bahamians, who viewed it as a critical tool in the nation’s arsenal against crime.

It should be noted, too, that in a recent press conference, Bran McCartney also spoke out against Urban Renewal. The DNA’s knee-jerk opposition to Urban Renewal — and indeed, to the PLP’s entire Project Safe Bahamas plan, which was designed in consultation with law enforcement experts, clergy, and community leaders – shows that, as many Bahamians have begun to suspect, the DNA is not something new and different – just more of the same, and not ready for the big time.

Opposing Urban Renewal for political reasons – that’s not putting Bahamians first.

Our Urban Renewal 2.0 will: cut through red tape and address street-level problems troubling our communities; provide grants for community improvements, empowering residents and civic leaders; introduce a new mentoring program with fifty successful Bahamians from tough backgrounds building relationships with at-risk youth; increase support for faith-based initiatives; strengthen after-school programs, and more.

The FNM ended it, the DNA is on the record against it – the PLP is the only party with the expertise and the intention to implement Urban Renewal.

The PLP proposes increased funding for drug rehabilitation, safe havens created by the police in conjunction with the clergy, saturation patrols in crime hotspots, “violence breakers” with special training in conflict mediation, and increased surveillance of repeat offenders. On these issues and many more, the Prime Minister was silent.

The PLP’s crime plan will be implemented alongside our extensive plans to expand the Bahamian economy. We’ve proposed doubling the nation’s investment in education and training; we’re serious about giving Bahamians the skills they need to compete for and keep sustainable jobs in the 21st century.

We have truly been baffled by the PM’s almost nonchalant attitude towards crime; certainly, given the way the FNM operates, Mr. Turnquest’s callous and cavalier dismissal of record murder rates as “criminals killing criminals” must have the PM’s backing.

For years, the PM has failed to lead in the battle against crime. He used it as an election issue in 2007, and then promptly abandoned the cause. Now, with an election looming, he’s once again entered the fray. But he’s underestimating Bahamians. They know: we need a government focused on fighting crime all the time, not just at election time.