Christie Delivers Plan to combat the scourge of crime and violence across the country

23
1852

Perry Christie

Nassau, Bahamas — Perry Christie delivered a national address across the nation tonight outlining his party’s plans to combat crime. Christie noted a renewed plan to expand urban renewal; promote a programme to work with businesses and a plan to expand education across the country.

Christie announced a plan to launch a national initiative called 50 Bahamians, which will involve a mentoring programme to empower young Bahamians.

Bahamas Press publishes the Leader of the Opposition’s national address in its entirety.

ADDRESS TO THE NATION

PAID POLITICAL BROADCAST
BY
RT. HON. PERRY G. CHRISTIE
LEADER
HER MAJESTY’S LOYAL OPPOSITION
NASSAU, THE BAHAMAS

15TH AUGUST, 2011

Good evening.

It is an honour to address the nation I love so dearly.

Tonight, I’m going to talk about a major crisis facing The Bahamas – I’m speaking, of course, about crime.

As I travel throughout our nation, everyone I meet wants to share a story about a neighbor, a friend, a family member who has suffered.

In the last few years alone, our communities have seen hundreds of murders and rapes, thousands of armed robberies, more than eleven thousand homes broken into.

More murders took place last month than in any other month in our recorded history.

People are afraid, and they are angry:  They are afraid that the violence is going to continue to escalate, and they are angry that the government has offered no meaningful response.

We know, every one of us, that we cannot accomplish great things in The Bahamas until we get this most basic thing right:  we must provide safety and security for every single Bahamian family.

Yet here we are, in August, and already ninety Bahamians have lost their lives to violence this year.  Ninety– an extraordinary number, a record-breaking number.

The Minister for National Security, Mr. Turnquest, recently stated that he wasn’t concerned about crime records being broken.  I couldn’t disagree more.  Because this isn’t just about numbers – it’s about the people behind those numbers: A young woman, seven months pregnant.  A respected charity worker; A troubled teen-ager with no family support.  An airline pilot engaged to be married. A mother of two young children.  A witness executed for the bad luck of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Every shooting leaves behind a devastating legacy.  Every murder leaves behind a shattered family, and a heartsick community, terrified they will never escape the cycle of violence.

Let’s take a moment to consider how we got here today.

There is no doubt that many negative trends have converged: we are suffering from the deterioration of families, from too many children growing up without their fathers, and from a move away from core Bahamian values.  The time when neighbours looked out for each other’s children seems ever more distant.  And now we are seeing what happens when you remove love and support, but you add in drugs and guns, cheap and easy to find.  And then top it off with a poor economy, with too few opportunities.

But yet we know that other communities and other nations are facing these same challenges – and are thriving, are improving, are in fact winning their war on crime.

Did you know that in Jamaica  murders are down 40% — ours are up 58% nationwide and 69% for  New Providence.

What does that tell you?

It tells you that the tsunami of violence sweeping our nation was never inevitable.

It tells you an important reason for the escalation of crime in The Bahamas is poor governance.

This government has been paralyzed, unable to lead on this crucial issue.

And their determination to put politics first, not Bahamians, has made a terrible problem much worse.

The FNM decided to end pioneering, award-winning anti-crime programs put in place by my government — programs like Urban Renewal, Swift Justice, Witness Protection, and School Policing,– all have either been inadequately funded or destroyed outright because they were PLP programs.

These political decisions have real-life consequences:  Did you know that a young man was shot in front of an Urban Renewal office shut down by this FNM government?  Did you know that since the Swift Justice programme was cancelled, hundreds of murder cases have not been brought to trial?  Did you know that since the FNM ended the PLP Witness

Protection Initiative, more than nineteen witnesses have been executed?

I think we can agree — it’s time for a government that will make reducing violence the number one priority.

It’s time to put Bahamians first.

I have recruited an extraordinary new generation of PLP candidates, and together, in consultation with experts, with clergy, and with community activists, we have put together a powerful set of ideas and solutions, drawing on the collective wisdom of Bahamians, combined with tough measures that have a proven track record of success.

Tonight, I announce the Progressive Liberal Party’s tough, innovative plan to stop the violence.

Our plan envisions an immediate and powerful law enforcement response to any violence in our communities.
With the concurrence of the Commissioner of Police, new Strike Force teams will be deployed rapidly – all violence must be answered with the full force of the law.  We must send the clearest possible message that using violence will land you in real trouble right away, not sometime in a distant future, but in the moments after the violence has been committed.

And because a small group of serious, chronic, and violent young offenders tend to commit the most and the worst crimes, and because we know where most of these crimes are committed, we propose an intense law enforcement focus on repeat offenders and the most violent criminals, and saturation patrols in crime hotspots.

No one should have to live in a neighbourhood where fear and menace rule the streets – we are going to flood these areas with police, with resources and support.

How can it be that people accused of one horrific crime are freed to commit more crime?  This violates common sense and it violates common decency. We must move heaven and earth to get persons accused of murder tried within 12 months, preventing their release on bail.

And since more than three-quarters of murders in The Bahamas are committed with a firearm; we will increase Defence Force patrols to reduce illegal guns coming across our borders, and we will increase gun interdiction in our ports, and we will pass legislation so that possession of high powered weapons will be tried in the Supreme Court, making tougher sentences possible.

We will bring back the Swift Justice programme, stronger than ever, to coordinate police, prosecutors, prison administration and social services, to ensure that criminals are “swiftly caught, swiftly tried, and swiftly punished.”
Too many criminals have no respect for our justice system — we need to remove their sense of impunity, increase the likelihood they will not just be arrested, but prosecuted, not just prosecuted but sentenced, not just sentenced but sentenced harshly.  We must be clear: violence will be punished, and justice will be swift.

We must have additional criminal trial courts – for too many victims and their families, justice delayed is justice denied. We will establish a Special Unit for Death Penalty cases, fast-tracking these appeals.

And we will bring back and strengthen Witness Protection, recognizing that our criminal justice system will never function properly if witnesses feel their testimony will imperil them or their families.

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham promised to amend the law relating to capital punishment in The Bahamas as a result of the recent Privy Council Ruling. I have said that while honest and reasonable men and women may differ on the death penalty, it is on our books and the PLP is pledged to carry out the law.

I have been advised that the law must be amended to say definitively the category of cases which will attract the death penalty. I propose that immediately upon coming to office the PLP will do what the FNM has failed to do and pass such a law.  And, so that heinous crimes can receive just punishment, I propose to set sentencing guidelines for the Court in cases where the death penalty is not appropriate.

Many of the initiatives I’ve just proposed address what happens after violence has taken place.

But if there is one big thing we need to do better in The Bahamas, it’s stop the violence from happening in the first place.
We must intervene directly in the cycle of revenge and vigilante killings.

Our proposal is this: a new team of highly specialized outreach workers: Violence Breakers.  These outreach workers will be recruited for their street smarts, their deep roots in tough neighbourhoods, and for their ability to build relationships with those at the highest risk of shooting or being shot.

Working with partners in US law enforcement, where a similar program has been effective and championed by the US Department of Justice, we will give these Violence Breakers intensive training in conflict mediation and violence interruption. Then, we are going to empower them to break the cycles of violence in their neighbourhoods and communities.

Violence Breakers will have the street credibility to defuse violence, to stop disputes from turning deadly.
And we propose that a partnership be forged between the clergy and the police to create more Safe Havens – people must be able to escape violence when it is kicking down their door.

The battle for the soul of this generation at risk is going to take place house by house, block by block, street by street, neighbourhood by neighbourhood.

And if we’re going to win it, we’re going to have to work hard on many other fronts, too.

Because let’s say one of our Violence Breakers persuades a young man to resist the lure of drugs, or of violence.  It will be a great victory…but it won’t be worth much for long if that young man returns to a run-down home, a school that isn’t teaching him what he needs to get a job, an economy that doesn’t provide any opportunities.

The government recently offered a job training program – they received more than12,000 applications for 3,000 spots – I can’t think of clearer evidence that this government’s efforts are too little and too late.  Have they bothered to wonder — what happens to the more than 9,000 who they turned away?

Under my government, 22,000 jobs were created in just five years.  We must get back in the business of encouraging business, of bringing in new investment, of creating secure, long-term jobs, and supporting small, home-grown Bahamian businesses and entrepreneurs.  Bahamians from even the most impoverished backgrounds can be owners and innovators, if they have the education, if they are linked to mentors, if they have someone who believes in them.

We intend to double our investment in education over the next five years.  We need better quality education for all our children, starting at the very beginning.  Did you know that  research has shown that at-risk children who don’t participate in quality preschool programs are five times more likely to be criminals at age 27 than children who did have a good quality program early in their lives?  Early education works – and it deserves our funding and our support.

It was with a heavy heart that I read recently about poor test results – when our children are getting failing grades, it is we who are failing.  We have to do better, and we can.

And in all our high schools, we must offer vocational and technical training.

The College of The Bahamas must become The University of The Bahamas, with an increased research capacity to investigate and propose solutions to our social, economic and cultural challenges. The world is changing quickly, and skills and knowledge must constantly keep pace.

My fellow Bahamians, I have said this before, and I will continue to say it: I believe in you. Where others see only problems, I see so much promise. I believe with all my heart we will successfully meet our challenges, even our most difficult ones.

This is only the beginning of the discussion.  We have so much more to share: more resources for hard-working police, who deserve not just our recognition but real support; new technology, an expanded police Intelligence Unit, a robust police presence in our schools, more resources for substance abuse rehabilitation, a new focus on helping ex-prisoners re-enter society, an amnesty period for turning in guns.

Children having children, becoming parents when they’re not ready for the responsibility – this is not just a moral issue, it is a national issue that must be addressed.

And we are proposing a new mentorship program, called FIFTY BAHAMIANS – fifty of the most successful Bahamians from the toughest neighbourhoods will be paired with at-risk youth.

Of course, I’m also looking forward to sharing with you the details of Urban Renewal 2.0 – an updated and strengthened Urban Renewal program to build stronger communities and stronger ties within communities, through interagency cooperation, through public-private partnerships, and through support for faith-based initiatives.

The PLP has big ideas about what can be accomplished in The Bahamas, about what kind of nation we can be in the 21st century, in this new millennium.  But first we have to get this right.  Nothing matters more.

We cannot aspire to great things as a nation if we lose a generation to violence.

Together, as one nation, we must decide that this level of violence is unacceptable; we need to change a culture in which using deadly force has somehow become routine.

We view tonight as the beginning of a new chapter for The Bahamas, and we hope you will, too.  PLP candidates will be sharing copies of our plan in your communities, and of course, you can find the details on myplp.org.

We are all God’s children.  We don’t have lives to throw away in our country.

So let us mark today as the day that as a nation, we say: Enough is enough.

Let us decide that we believe in The Bahamas, believe in our ability to do great things, once we are safe and secure.

Let us agree that failure is not an option, that this is not someone else’s problem, that this is our problem, and that we have the will, the innovative ideas, the burning desire, and the determination to see it solved.

The cause of justice is everlasting – let us make it our cause.

Thank you, and good night.

God Bless The Bahamas.

Watch live streaming video from plpbahamas at livestream.com

—end—

23 COMMENTS

  1. the big question is where is tommy t plan? the bahamian should now see who really has the vision to stump out crime, once and for all, it take great leadership like christie’s to do what this so call FNM can’t do! lead, the former PM hit the nail on the head with his speech, perry next speech will be putting bahamians back to work! the way it was when he left office, ‘the old say’ go you may! come you must!!

  2. “The endemic problem of crime demands that responsible Leaders help in forming a National Consensus on the way forward” excerpt from Carl Bethel,s response to Christie,s speech.A few years ago when there was a brewing problem and Papa was asked to engage the opposition PLP he derided the idea and said his advisors were his Cabinet.Carl is going bto be fired by Papa again as the latter is against the very thing Carl suggest.,

  3. it just go’s to show how some bahamians don’t want change for the better! the FMN plan has fail us big time! they are lost! yet perry bring a plan to the table and we complain, where was these people heads when this man was in power? all his idea worked. the last time this country was doing good and we had jobs,was in 2007,everything went down hill after this FNM return. just go’s to show, some bahamas out there will rather see this country go to the dogs before they vote PLP!!!

  4. I heard what Mr. Christie was saying and honestly cannot see any vision in it. Adding more police will not solve the problem – this just seems like martial law. Why not address the root of the problem – parents who are children themselves teaching their children disrespect and no healthy work ethic. Why not address the lack of respect our leadres display in the House, which is broadcasted to our youth. Why not address the issue of our grown men, even the ones with so-called power having sex with our young girls – and so often the parents benefiting financilly from it. The time for a plan was more than a year not with rlevyions around the corner! Do you really care about us?

  5. The PLP has big ideas about what can be accomplished in The Bahamas, about what kind of nation we can be in the 21st century, in this new millennium. But we ain ga do nothin just like we always don do nuthin

  6. I thought Christie succeeded in articulating a clear plan to deal with crime. The government and the minister in charge have failed to do what Christie has now done in Opposition. Now I know that it collides with FNM spin, but this is an example of Leadership!

  7. Thank you Jesus for sending our deliverer. This country was punished for turning from God and voting in this philistine government. Now we will return to grace with our Moses.

  8. “all violence must be answered with the full force of the law”
    Right so now you actually believe in capital Punishment? As PM you’re the one person to lead the charge to make the changes that will streamline the justice system. If you personally don’t support the death penalty I not convinced you’ll push hard to get it done.

    “we are going to flood these areas with police, with resources and support”
    Really? Where are these new offices going to magically appear from? We already have a problem with getting quality officers. Too many police are either bad apples or have terrible people/social/customer service skills.

    “And since more than three-quarters of murders in The Bahamas are committed with a firearm; we will increase Defense Force patrols to reduce illegal guns coming across our borders”
    Many illegal firearms arrive in this country through legal shipping means. Secondly the defense force isn’t nearly large enough to cover the entire country. Not to mention they have to deal with illegal immigrants too. Again where are you magically going to get all these new ships to patrol and new quality officers to man them?

    “we will pass legislation so that possession of high powered weapons will be tried in the Supreme Court, making tougher sentences possible”
    Don’t you guys get it? Criminals don’t care about laws. Laws affect law abiding citizens. Start hanging these bad apples and send a real message. Oh wait you don’t believe in hanging do you Mr. Christie?

    “We intend to double our investment in education over the next five years”
    Really? You think our horrible test scores is mainly due to education quality? No it’s due to the lack of parenting by parents. If more Bahamian parents take an active interest in their kids and push them and teach them the value of education. Scores would be better. It starts at home. This isn’t a problem that can be fixed by throwing more money at it. Yes more investment would be good but that not the root cause of this issue. What needs to happen is some sort of initiative to get Bahamians to be responsible parents and take care of their kids. Maybe we need to do something extreme and enact laws to push people to be responsible parents. You get the family issues fixed or at least significantly lower and virtually all the other social ills (you have no real solutions for) will be cut in half.

    I honestly don’t see any innovative specifics on how The PLP plans to change the Bahamian people and society to affect serious change.

    • Since you didn’t like what the leader of the opposition plan for crime. Can you please tell us what the current FNM Government plan is for dealing with crime? Or better yet the DNA proposal for crime? Most importantly what are your suggestions to any government present or future on the crime crisis! We need ideas my brother! Constructive criticism to solve our country’s problem and not dismissive talk from you! P.S. When parents don’t do there job ‘the state’ must protect its citizens! Plain and simple!! I would suggest ‘National Youth Service’ but that is a political football of its own!

  9. New CRime initiaves were espoused by the Leader of the Opposition along with initiatives that have worked in the past.To the critics I say show me what new is happening to combat Crime and I give you $100.Crime continues unabated and many were calling for the Leader of the Opposition to say something and now he has.A wise Govt would consider and utilise his ideas since they have no initiatives of their own.To Christies credit he has a track record which shows that while he was in power his Crime initiatives worked.Rather thjan reject the speech of the Leader of the Opposition I say to every Bahamian compare it with the many Crime forums held by the present Govt since they came to power and use empirical data to see which have meat and which has nothing.Four years in power and the present Govt has given the country no confidence it can tackle the Crime situation.

  10. More promises from a man who cannot make a decision and recycled ideas which do not have a chance in hell in succeeding. The 500 pound elephant in the room for your information Mr. Christie is the Police College. This institution has over the years deteriorated to such an extent that virtually every recruit graduates. This 98% pass rate is unheard of in any institution of this type.The quality of the policemen now on the streets reflects this. In addition, the College is the only institution to my knowledge which allows recruits leave after less than eight weeks in training.Because of this, recruits do not buy into the ethos of the force and never really buy into the concept of policing. Why is this happening at the college? Because instructors are too lazy to stay on post and nurture and train the recruits over wekends. No Mr. Christie your so-called experts are wrong and if you expect the police to accept this foolishness from “civilians”then you are in for a shock!

    • to mike brown, I believe there are countless of us bahamians who could frown on what the leader of the opposition had to say about the crime situation.
      but you see, we don’t have that luxury right now to discount any idea in tackling this crime problem.
      what is clear however, is the method that is currently used is failing miserably.

      if you are employed in the criminal justice system, I encourage you and your colleagues to display the highest level of professionalism as you carry out your responsibilities to the PEOPLE OF THE BAHAMAS.
      Yes, the people and not the government of the day.

      there appears to be this service of expectation by some members of the force, who expect the government, particularly, this government to treat them in a certain way, and they in return will support them at the polls.

      well, the Bahamian people see through this quid pro quo dealings with the force and the government. we say its distasteful and we look on it with disdain.
      we simply cry shame and ask for an end to this practice.

    • Micheal J. Brown, seems to me that you have swallowed the myth about decision making. Who made the decision about the airport, Baha Mar, the strawmarket etc. At least Bahamians were working, and they were able to pay their bills. I think you are getting “impulsive” confused with “decision making”. Every sector of our social and economic lives have deteriorated since this FNM government assumed power. Further, I guess you think Tommy is an expert at policing. checkout the the murder and crime statistics. Seems like you have all the answers. You and the rest of the panty waist crowd. The problem though, is that things are getting worse and worse.

    • Mr. Brown…fyi…the police college in years gone by suffers from the same sickeness that the whole government system suffers from…who you know not what you know…these same politicians who have big plans now what pushed their chosen people in training and even tho they are not police material they expect the college to make them into police officers. When said people do not meet the mark the powers that be never give the ‘ok’ for siad persons to be let go until the *&%# hits the fan and they commit some criminal act or something else public and embarrasing.
      I agree with your statements that the quality of the policeman on the streets reflects this…and that many of these persons do not by into the ethos of the force or the concept of policing. Why should they this is not what they want to do its just a job given to them by ‘da government dem’…the same people who complaining now.

  11. WAY TA GO MR CHRISTIE! I LOVE YOUR SPEECH . LET GET TOGETHER AND AND EXECUTE THIS PLAN, FOR YOU ARE TRULY A GOD SEND AND YOU ARE ON TIME.

    • and what do you compare this short coming too? would it be the plan of the FNM or the DNA? explain what it is that he did not say that you seem to feel he should,. don’t just pass innuendo, tell us so we can add it to the overall plan, are you a patriotic Bahamian or are you just opposed to whatever Mr. Christie has to say.

    • Tal Russell,

      Win you over? If you are better off now than you were four years ago, then vote for the continuation of the, or further deterioration of the mess we’re presently. However, I would advise Bahamians to think for themselves and after careful thought, vote for “their” best interest. It’s time we stop waiting for some politician to “win us over”.

Comments are closed.