Success of the Bahamas’ internal security stability effort is at a critical stage, general elections officially scheduled for Wednesday May 10th 2017.
The archipelago’s Parliament is dissolved and preparation made for Nassau’s special political theatre. Elected officials will have to immediately confront elevated crime and violence numbers. In 2015 one hundred and forty-nine Bahamian residents were murdered, setting a record high, one hundred and twenty-six or eighty-six percent of the killings committed on New Providence Island, seventeen or twelve percent on Grand Bahama Island, while three percent on other member Islands.
In February 2016 the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) Commissioner presented policing priorities. The agenda was “prevention and detection of crime, reducing the fear of crime and removing dangerous weapons, mainly firearms, off the streets.” Nassau’s most senior law enforcer added: “As part of its crime detection efforts, the RBPF will further develop and properly staff an Anti-Gang Unit; aggressively target active criminals and monitor prolific offenders and plans to acquire a helicopter for “rapid response” to serious crimes and patrol of hot-spots.”
In 2015 the RBPF was assisted by America’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to launch its Anti-Gang Unit. On August 24, 2015 Superintendent in charge of RBPF’s Central Detective Unit (CDU) advised a strengthened Anti-Gang Unit was law enforcement’s attempt to stop local gangs’ drug trafficking involvement and minimize turf wars. As of June 2016 records noted fifty-two killings. Caribbean security analysts and international agencies see the Bahamas’ internal security challenge through critical eyes.
On February 15, 2017 a wave of gang-related murders forced deployment of Bahamas Defence Force (BDF) personnel to assist RBPF officers manage community streets. The latest United Kingdom Foreign Travel Advisory cautioned British nationals “there have been incidents of violent crime including robbery, which is often armed and sometimes fatal, in residential and tourist areas of New Providence, Grand Bahama and Freeport. The number of break-ins and robbery incidents reported to the British High Commission increased. There are police patrols in the main tourist areas.”
The Canadian government website posted an equivalent warning to readers; “Exercise a high degree of caution when traveling to the Bahamas to avoid falling prey to crime particularly in Nassau.” The Bahamian CDU Superintendent confirmed the “One Order” gang is the Islands most notorious. On May 26, 2015 regional intelligence data highlighted the Bahamas’ One Order affiliate membership in Jamaica.
A previous Bahamian One Order boss’ viciousness is reflected in the life imprisonment sentence for killing a RBPF officer in 1999. The gang leader and resident of Ridgeland Park, Nassau also serves ten years in jail for attempted murder of another RBPF officer. Additionally, the One Order leader faced charges for drugs smuggling valued BD$6 million. According to the Bahamian Minister of State for National Security in 2006 another RBPF officer, scheduled to appear as a main trial witness, was executed by One Oder assassins.
Intelligence reports inform of growing violent crimes and more One Order presence in Bozine Town on New Providence Island. Local districts referred to as “Over the Hill,” such as south of downtown Nassau and south of Shirley Street, indicate increased One Order activity. Pockets of micro-gangs operate from East Street, Nassau Village and Kemp Road. When such criminal elements clash the reverberation is violence and death.