By Bradley B. Roberts
Progressive Liberal Party
The comprehensive, frank and sobering national address delivered by the National Security Minister last Thursday proved once again that the Progressive Liberal Party is still the only party with a plan to tackle crime.
We offer our unreserved support for the government’s anti-crime policies and initiatives that are designed to address this social menace with a multi-tiered approach from prevention to rehabilitation. We thank Minister Nottage for his vision, leadership, hard work and tenacity.
The policies enunciated though tough, are necessary because they are designed address the root causes of crime and effect social re-engineering which is a significant and critical strategic component in the long term and permanent solution to crime.
The collective opposition responded in a manner consistent with their limited skill set: Unable to compete with the PLP on sensible and salient policy issues, the opposition simple created clutter, noise and obfuscation in the public domain. By doing so, the FNM and DNA have shown contempt for the Bahamian people and our way of life because the government’s anti-crime policies are intended to improve the quality of life for all Bahamians as we work together to build a stronger, more prosperous and safer Bahamas.
Specifically, Saturation Patrols, Shock Treatment; School-Based Policing; Prison Reform, Urban Renewal 2.0, Sandy Bottom, our strong and successful Trafficking in Persons (TIPS) initiative; Marco’s Law; the sex offender registry; the anti-gang initiative and supporting legislation; all amendments to the penal code; the Swift Justice Initiative; the marine and canine units of the Customs Department; the rapid expansion of the uniform branches to put “more boots on the ground” and the expansion of the physical infrastructure of the police and defence forces to better fight crime are all applauded by the PLP and must continue.
To the FNM and others who chose to criticize these anti-crime initiatives, they must say why any of the above initiatives is bad for the Bahamas and the general welfare its people and propose their alternatives. We issued to public challenge to the FNM on tax reform, gaming reform, food security, immigration reform and energy reform and the record clearly shows that to date, the FNM is yet to propose any practical and sensible solutions to myriad of challenges facing a twenty-first century Bahamas. I was therefore not surprised when they chose to remain the tall grasses and throw stones; they could not do any better – they were acting within the limitations of their skill set.
Meanwhile, the PLP government is aggressively rolling out its $20 million IDB funded CITIZEN SECURITY AND JUSTICE PROGRAM based on the findings of a recent Living Conditions & Crime Perception Survey. This innovative program not only addresses issues of crime prevention, intervention, suppression tactics, but prosecution, sentencing and rehabilitation of persons in conflict with the law. This is a clear example of informed public policy and an innovative crime reduction strategy geared at attacking the root causes of crime while embracing social engineering processes. The PLP fully supports this initiative and will do its part in educating Bahamians about its significant impact on society.
The PLP specifically mentions and supports the government’s latest $20 million Public Private sector Partnership (PPP) designed to address the challenges facing our at-risk youth, general truancy in the public school system and youth unemployment/training.
This program seeks to achieve the following as indicated by the Minister:
Establish a Student Refocusing Program for junior and senior high school students with behavioral issues that mitigate against their learning and employ-ability.
Establish an Apprenticeship Program in partnership with the private sector to employ young persons so that they can be afforded the opportunity to acquire vital basic job skills through practical on-the-job training.
It is important to note that because much of the serious crimes are concentrated in New Providence, much of the resources will be concentrated on the challenges faced in New Providence.
I implore all parents and guardians to become fully engaged with these new, important and innovative programs and become a part of the solution to this social menace that threatens our way of life.
Given the fact that many of the perpetrators and victims of serious crimes are young people, I send out a personal and clarion appeal to young people to put down the weapons; resolve your conflicts in a non-violent manner; and be ever mindful of the tremendous sacrifices made by your forebears in both building willing this beautiful and free country to you. This generation of young people must not squander their national birthright and inheritance through senseless violence and murder.
I end where I began. The PLP is the default party when our nation is in crisis and in need of strong and bold leadership. Our record is there for all to see and for the critics and armchair leaders and doomsday preachers, I invite them all to become a part of the solution through constructive engagement.
BELIEVE IN THE BAHAMAS and put the country’s needs above your petty, narrow and personal agendas.