Minister of State for National Security Keith Bell commended law enforcement officers in the Northern District yesterday for their hard work, dedication and commitment and assured that no effort will be spared in providing them with the necessary tools to execute their duty.
Bell was bringing remarks on behalf of Minister for National Security Bernard Nottage at the annual church service held at the Freeport Seventh-day Adventist Church on Gambier Drive.
The service and parade was hosted by the Grand Bahama District of the Royal Bahamas Police Force and also attended by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Bahamas Customs, Immigration and Road Traffic Department.
" As social beings, we have every right to be concerned because crime can touch the things and people who matter to us," he said. "The safety and security of people is therefore a fundamental priority of the government.
" No effort will or can be spared to provide the police force and our law enforcement partners with the necessary tools and conditions of service required to effectively deal with this crime situation."
Bell pointed out that for the northern district the year 2013, though challenging at times, still proved a successful and productive one for law enforcement and there were decreases over past years in all categories of major crimes – both in crimes against a person and crime against property.
Minister Bell acknowledged that public safety is one of the most critical issues facing the country today, while adding that the consequences of crime involve unjust losses, hardship, trauma, violence, suffering, injury, grief and loss of life.
Cognizant of the tools needed to carry out the task ahead, Bell revealed that renovations to the fire substation in Eight Mile Rock are completed and it is expected to be open soon with a new fire truck stationed in that community.
Additionally, he said Grand Bahama was also equipped with three new Ford patrol vehicles and a new police substation in McLean's Town to better serve the eastern end of the island is set to open soon.
As for Bimini, he said that northern island received additional manpower resources and vehicles in an effort to meet the poling challenges associated with the mega development underway by Resorts World.
The minister further noted his government's awareness of a soft and hard approach to crime and has moved towards executing the appropriate measures.
" Guns and drugs have engulfed some of our communities, certainly New Providence. Children are growing up without positive role models and without options. In some places circumstances are set against them so that they are at a disadvantage," he said.
Sometimes, children are lured away from school by gangsters to become drug pushers, he acknowledged.
A soft approach to reaching those challenged throughout the communities, he said is through the Urban Renewal program which provides mentoring and socialization and helps to bring hope, help and support.
But, there is also the hard approach, which involves raids, pursuits, intercepts and prosecutions, Bell said.
He added that while the law enforcement officers have a role to play in the fight against crime, so do civilians.
" The citizenry in Grand Bahama, Abaco and Bimini ought to be applauded for the continuous show of support and assistance rendered to the police and the agencies," he said.
" They continue to demonstrate their willingness to assist in the fight in making their communities safe from the criminal elements."
While he is pleased to report the positive results, Bell said government is aware that there is still much work to be done in its law enforcement endeavors.
Pastor Henry Moncur, executive secretary of the Northern Bahamas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, while delivering a hard-hitting message, encouraged the officers not to allow people to keep them from doing what they are supposed to do, which is to protect and serve the country.
A moment of silence and remembrance was also given for the 16 officers who fell from the ranks in 2013.