By Jerry Roker
for Bahamas Press
In the never-ending struggle by our country to face up to the ugly facts about crime, and the full impact on community life, it seems frighteningly clear that there is a quiet war between those who benefit from underworld activity. That includes illegal drugs, and often gunplay, and those who even know of people involved, but choose silence, rather than risk possible repercussions.
The Bahamas is still a truly beautiful place to live, and most of us are proud of that fact, but in a fast-changing world, especially in crime, there are dark shadows of violent criminals who seem fearless in pulling the trigger of a gun, without any concern as to what damage the deadly metal can cause, even to innocent people.
From time to time, the police, acting on intelligence, undertake daring raids aimed at breaking the back of underworld crime. These raids carry risk, since the potential for gunplay is ever present. However, careful planning is always involved to avoid that possibility. This is why public support is so vital, even though some people are reluctant to become involved, knowing that in our small society, sometimes trust becomes a casualty.
Despite this, it has been encouraging to note that police continue to report increased public support in recent times; that was key in bringing some criminals to justice before the courts. The recent brazen assault and robbery of a well-known Minister of the gospel and his family in their home, is a grim reminder that amid apparent tranquility, cold-blooded criminals can create a wave of fear and mistrust by an act that is contrary to every value most Bahamians consider essential for living with decency and respect. It cuts deep into the very core of our value structure, and the last thing we need is to feel helpless.
It is a time for all of our leaders, regardless of political persuasion or religious affiliation, to step up to the plate with one voice in calling for islandwide support for our police service, who have the dangerous job of confronting a new type of criminal who is a threat to our way of life.
The relationship between the police and the community appears to have improved in recent years, which is also important because police need community support and the community needs the police.
Whenever there is an ugly incident, usually the first people called are the police, and they respond aware that safety and security are priorities. Most Bahamians sleep peacefully at night, mainly because they know police are patrolling the Island, even though they cannot be everywhere at the same time.
No police department anywhere is perfect, and some fall short at times in maintaining proper standards. Police chiefs are always on the lookout for this, since credibility can be badly damaged and is not easy to repair. We remember well recent incidents in America when the police came under fire for what many felt were gross violations of expected standards, and the nation experienced protests and demonstrations at a level never seen before. With racial undertones involved, police there are still struggling to rebuild community trust.
Here in The Bahamas, we take pride in most of our neighbourhoods being relatively safe, and that is the Bahamian way of life we want. However, we certainly would be taking the ostrich position if we choose to ignore dangers simply because they are unpleasant to talk about.
Gang activity in The Bahamas, particularly New Providence, remains a concern for both the community and police, and there are no signs things will change overnight.
Meanwhile, more support from all sections of the community could go a long way in helping to make our Island not only a wonderful place to live, but an even better place to call home.