Crime is Out-Of-Control
Published: Sunday January 29th, 2012
Of the many thousands of words spoken by the Prime Minister tonight, fewer than 30 were devoted to crime, a perfect reflection of how little he cares about the issue.
It is repellent to see the FNM congratulating themselves on their record when what they have really delivered are record levels of violent crime.
A government’s first responsibility is to keep its citizens safe. Yet the murder rate has doubled under this FNM government.
Tonight, the FNM put on a big show. But underneath all the spectacle is a party with no clue about how to keep Bahamians safe.
They have failed to prevent crime, they have failed to prosecute crime, and they have failed to punish crime. They have failed to invest in at-risk youth. They have failed to keep schools safe. They have failed to protect witnesses. They have failed to stem the avalanche of illegal weapons. They have failed to adequately patrol our borders.
They have failed to keep Bahamians safe.
For petty political reasons, they cancelled or gutted PLP programmes like Urban Renewal, Swift Justice, School Policing, Witness Protection – all slashed or eliminated.
For the FNM, it’s all a game.
The PLP believes a society-wide response is necessary to reduce violence.
But we also believe the government should be leading the charge. There is no reason we cannot make dramatic progress in fighting crime – but it requires focus, expertise, resources, and innovative responses. It requires a leader willing to bring law enforcement, business and civic leaders, clergy and educators together in a coordinated response.
Bahamians are ready for a government that cares about fighting crime all the time, not just at election time.
The PLP has a tough, innovative plan to fight crime, Project Safe Bahamas. We are proposing tougher sentences for illegal weapons possession, and returning police to schools where they’re needed. We are calling for Saturation Patrols in crime hotspots – the areas experiencing the worst crime should be flooded with well-trained police. We need Swift Justice, so fewer people are out on bail, and we need increased surveillance of those who are out on bail. Under Operation Cease Fire, we’ll recruit and train outreach workers in conflict mediation, so disputes don’t turn deadly.
In addition to these and many other crime-fighting proposals, the PLP is offering an updated version of our award-winning Urban Renewal programme. Urban Renewal 2.0 will support at-risk youth with mentoring and after-school programmes, and support for communities fighting violence. Police will work with clergy to create Safe Havens, so that people have an escape when violence comes kicking down their door. Another new element of Urban Renewal 2.0 is Shock Treatment, a plan to bring at-risk youth to clinics, hospitals and morgues, to show them the consequences of gun violence.
The FNM’s message is that they deliver. And the FNM does deliver — for foreign road contractors, for insiders, and for special interests. But “we deliver” sounds not just smug and self-satisfied, but completely disconnected from reality to the many Bahamians who no longer feel safe in their own homes.