With the 2019 murder count having surpassed that of 2018, Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson said yesterday that the increase in murders toward the end of the year was a result of police force resources being stretched thin in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
Ferguson said that while there was a spike following Hurricane Dorian in September and October, November and the first few days of December have represented a marked improvement.
“None of us can plan for national disasters, and all of us are quite aware of the devastation in Abaco and Grand Bahama,” he said.
“Up to September 1, there were about 61 homicides. Once that devastation took place, it simply meant that the whole policing strategy, the whole country, changed.
“Specifically in law enforcement, that changed also, and we had to make some changes to our plan in order to accommodate something that nobody could have foreseen. During the period, there will always be evil people in the world. We met them here and we will leave them here.
“And, so, while we were attending to the devastation in Abaco and Grand Bahama, and you found that there were persons who had no real concern for what was going on in Abaco, they were wreaking havoc here on New Providence.
“They continued with criminal activities and, hence, for September and October, we saw a spike in homicides. That’s a fact. The numbers are there.”
Ferguson said police are back on track now, and said there is a greater level of comfort now than there was in the weeks following Dorian. He said they are working hard to prevent the uptick in homicides that the country experienced in December 2018.
“I am extremely pleased with the level of comfort that we have since then,” he said.
“The men and women are back on track and they have been doing great work. A whole lot of firearms have been taken off the street. A whole lot of criminals have been arrested and put before the court, and we are doing extremely well leading into the end of the year and Bahamians can expect to see a continued and more renewed [heightened police presence] on the streets and we will continue to do that straight into the end of the year.
“You remember last year there was a serious spike in homicides around the early part of December. We recognized that, and so we have made serious adjustments, and that is why you have seen this level of reduction here.
“Are we going to be able to stop every single thing? Absolutely not. We never said that there will be no homicides. We never said that there would be no armed robberies.
“What we committed to is the fact that we will do our best in making sure that the Bahamian people are safe. That’s still our commitment, and I believe that any person with the right thinking can see that the police are actually doing what they are mandated to do, what they said they will do.”
Last year’s murder tally was 91, the lowest count in nine years. There have been 92 murders so far this year.