I respect and value police officers and I have high regard for those who lead them. I am, however, alarmed at comments I heard made by Commissioner of Police, Ellison Greenslade. They appear to be quite political. After his Minister of National Security said that dealing with crime is not going to be an overnight affair or a quick fix, Commissioner Greenslade declares that “Urban Renewal 2.0 is working”. Working based on what? Working doing what? Working to push down houses, remove derelict vehicles or clear down bushes? These may be useful things to do but are they bringing down murder, rape or robberies? Is the Commissioner of Police saying that they are bringing down crime in these areas and if so, where is his statistics to support same? Is it making Bahamians across the Bahamas feel safer? All of these things have happened in The Bahamas before and on a large scale. They served their purpose then and no doubt will do so again.
It is noteworthy that there are laws governing the tearing town of houses and the removal of vehicles and the clearing down of bushes, especially where they relate to private property. With the rate and somewhat indiscriminate nature with which this is being done, one has to question whether these laws are being followed by law enforcers. If we break the law, meaning commit a crime, trying to fight crime, are we really becoming a better society? If the laws are hindering us from fighting crime, then we should change them first and not break them to get our fix, otherwise, what stops the society from doing the same thing? If a man steals from the thief who steals from him, is he executing justice and is that vigilante act making us better off?
If these things can fix crime and work so quickly, why was the Commissioner of Police not doing them before? Is he suggesting that the former administration kept him from doing these things or that he did not know that this was what needed to be done? Is that what he means by the comment that “now” they can do their job? Is the Commissioner saying that his new initiatives are only able to be implemented now that the government has changed? Then what in Heaven’s name was his published strategic plan all about? Is he admitting that his plan was ineffective and that only Urban Renewal 2.0 was needed all along? The Commissioner produced the plan; he published it; and he was responsible for implementing it. Its effectiveness is one of the statutory bases upon which his performance would be judged.
I am very concerned about the posturing of the Commissioner of Police and so are other members of the public; and so are some past and present police officers. It gives me no great pleasure to say so. The Commissioner has my full support in terms of fighting crime but if he is going to sound political in his comments and public posture, I am going to call him out. A Commissioner of Police must work for peace at all times and under all circumstances. He must give his all no matter who is in power. This is what professionalism is. I can say that this appeared to be the public posture of former Commissioners of Police.
As the murder count continues to climb, the Commissioner says Urban Renewal, not his crime strategy, is working. Is the Commissioner under pressure from the PLP administration to serve them, given their promise to give the Commissioner tenure once again? Would this not be the same kind of political influence that the PLP complained should not be a part of the Commissioner’s situation? If we all must be a part of the fight against crime, then it will require leadership by the Police that is absolutely free of politics. It must be a fight where the police are seen as purely professional and only on the side of the law. The prospect of a highly political Minister of State and a political Commissioner of Police sends chills down my spine! I truly hope that it is not the case but I and others will be watching.