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In announcing the launch of Urban Renewal 2.0 at police headquarters on Monday, June 4, 2012, Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade was quoted by reporter Dana Smith of The Tribune as saying, "Many of the murders that we recorded to date are a result of arguments. I am ashamed to tell you, arguments over women, females, where young men are feuding over females."
He further stated that "yes drugs is causing a lot of our problems, but a lot of our problems with our young people stem from these relationships that do not work right".
If the commissioner of police is correct about what he thinks is the cause of the record-breaking spike in our country's murder rate today, then it points to a spiritual problem which cannot be solved by police or any other law enforcement agency. This calls for more direct support of churches and para-church organizations that are actively running programs that affect the spiritual fabric of our nation. Police and other law enforcement agencies are employed to enforce the laws of the land, and are not expected to become social and religious counselors at the flip of a switch.
According to the report in The Tribune on Tuesday, June 5, 2012, the commissioner stated the following: "This is killing us and it's causing our people to die. We are going to have to make that intervention. We're going to have to get right up in their faces and say: 'You're a bigger man than that and I hear you're feuding over this girl - let it go.' And maybe take him for a drive and have a man talk." This sounds more like the job of a local pastor or social worker but not a police officer. I think we need to acknowledge the important role of the church in assisting with the solution of this national crisis. Yes, Urban Renewal 2.0 calls for the involvement of local pastors in its multipronged approach to crime prevention, but there is no talk of financial assistance to pastors who may be called upon to spend many long hours counseling young people. If the problem is considered to be a national crisis by the prime minister, then resources should be made available to the churches that are already in the fight against crime. Ultimately, we in the church believe that unless there is a change in the heart, by a personal relationship with Christ, no amount of policing can stop a criminal from committing a crime.
Now that the heat of the political campaign is over, it should be clear to all that the solution to crime is not found in the change of government policies. Crime should never be used as a political football, and as was stated by the new minister of national security, we should not expect to see any immediate change in the murder rate because of a change in government.
This has already been borne out by the recent record-breaking number of murders committed in a single month, since May 7, 2012. In this regard, it would be safe to say that apart from murders stemming from relationships, mentioned by Greenslade, murders committed since the change in administration have been associated with gang warfare and persons waiting to testify in other murder cases, and committed by individuals out on bail.
- Pastor Edmund Dorsett
Within recent weeks, the loud cries of criminality, gun violence and other forms of lawlessness have emanated from many local neighborhoods around the Greater Toronto Area, where there are noticeable Afro-Canadian Caribbean residents, especially in many of the low income housing complexes owned by the city of Toronto.
Criminality and lawlessness within these neighborhoods is not new, will not subside but is likely to escalate. It is important to stress in this article that similar behavior and activities are quite prevalent in many other communities in North America and Europe. Afro-Canadian and Caribbean neighborhoods in the Greater Toronto Area are not exempt from such conduct although economic disparity could be a contributing factor.
However, the binding and motivated factor is the commitment to hardcore criminality and growing tech savvy skills that are utilized in criminal activities such as lottery scams, extortion, credit frauds, prostitution and indiscriminate use of firearms.
With fairness to the situation in the Greater Toronto Area, many Afro-Canadian Caribbean residents who reside in and out of the housing complexes have expressed opposition and disgust at the criminality and violence because such conduct impacts on the overall community, which is law-abiding. During the recent shooting incidents in the GTA, many residents rose to the occasion and were quite critical of what had occurred and called for intensive police investigations and swift justice. The police have responded and these painstaking investigations are yielding slow results but the criminality continues in different forms.
These unjustified acts of criminality in Toronto by young people within the Afro-Canadian Caribbean community have led to speculation and suspicion about connectivity, deportation of criminals and, of course, family breakdown. Many commentators have linked the criminal conduct as a result of poverty and other social ills.
As a result, the McGuinty administration, through a hopeless minister of children and youth services, has re-entered the fray by providing $20 million for youth initiatives to focus on crime prevention and poverty reduction. This initiative, like many others, is another recipe for disaster and will only fill the coffers of the many financially strapped neighborhood nonprofit organizations. Many mainstream and Canadian-Caribbean groups, including the "faith-communities", will soon cash in on Queen's Park generosity. Criminality in these neighborhoods will continue.
Canadians of Caribbean heritage have long been engaged in conversations pertaining to the deportation of persons from Canada. Many individuals in the Caribbean region have joined in the debate and described Canada's action as inhumane and unwarranted. However, to those who persist to pushing this position, it is incorrect and stems from a total lack of understanding about Canada's immigration policy.
There is no doubt that immigration through family union and other means has resulted in many youth arrivals from different corners of the Caribbean. Many of the young immigrant arrivals immediately join with accomplices who arrived earlier and understand the system. Our young newcomers become so entrenched in the corrupt lifestyle that they fail to remember that becoming a Canadian citizen will afford them greater shielding, especially when they face the justice system. In essence, they remain landed immigrants and when caught and convicted in the act of criminality, the deportation wrath usually steps in.
However, it must be reminded that it is not only young recently landed immigrants who engage themselves in criminality. There are many visitors who have overstayed their time, become engaged in criminal acts, and are caught and convicted. Under existing legislation, there are no alternatives but deportation. We understand the dilemma faced by regional governments when these persons are deported because their criminal conduct continues and, given the weakness of the region's national security structure, their wrongdoings often go undetected.
In defense of the Canadian judicial system, it is reasonably fair and Caribbean landed immigrants caught and convicted for criminal acts are not arbitrarily held and deported. These individuals have the right to appeal their deportations and often exercise such rights. Therefore, in many instances, they are successful with their appeals and are allowed to stay on certain conditions.
Behavior up north
Caribbean governments that continue to whine and make false allegations against the Canadian judicial and immigration system should pause for a moment and give deep thoughts about public safety. While Canada has and will continue to show its generosity to the Caribbean Commonwealth states, it should not be used as an enclave for criminality by immigrants and non-immigrants from the region. Public safety is important to all and it is the responsibility of regional governments and their law enforcement agencies to create and sustain the necessary crime prevention and detection mechanism to deal with returning deportees.
It is understood that deported criminals from Canada, the United States and Europe will always find creative and strategic ways to continue with their criminal efforts. Unfortunately, many of their criminal schemes involve the use and application of various forms of technology that might very well be ahead of our local national security forces. This is why regional governments must prioritize national security training with an emphasis on information technology.
My advice to Caribbean governments is to tone down the rhetoric about deportees from Canada. It is not a policy or legislative issue that they can influence. However, there is the possibility for more timely information sharing about deportees and maybe the region's consular representatives in Canada might wish to explore other efforts that extend beyond Canada's United Nations responsibilities on detained persons.
Let me conclude by saying that Caribbean immigrants to Canada have done well and are of critical value to the mosaic. Many whose children are now Canadians are doing extremely well. An attestation to these comments was clearly demonstrated in the recent London Olympics as many of the visible minorities who represented Canada are of Caribbean heritage.
Caribbean Canadians are contributing to the Canadian economy and exercising their civic engagement responsibilities. A small contingent of criminals and misfits should not depict the overall value of our community. If the criminals and misfits make the decision to survive through criminality and they are caught. They must be prepared to stand up and face the Canadian judicial system, face the possibility of deportation and our Caribbean leaders and begging civil society organizations must stop making apologies and accusing Canada of rights infringement.
This is not the case. Many of the criminals are visitors who have overstayed their time and resorted to criminality. Many of the newly arrived immigrants have failed to shield themselves by not obtaining Canadian citizenship. They have no one to blame. Crime does not pay.
Ian Francis resides in Toronto and is a frequent contributor on Caribbean affairs. He is a former assistant secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Grenada and can be reached at email@example.com.
Scores of children watched as an Augusta Street man was loaded into an ambulance and rushed to the hospital around 1:30 p.m. yesterday, seemingly unfazed by the violence they had just witnessed.
The man, who was wanted by police in connection with several serious crimes, was shot by an officer during a stand-off, police reported.
Director of the Crime Prevention Office Superintendent Stephen Dean told reporters at the scene that the man, known by area residents as “Bear”, pulled a gun on an officer who was attempting to question him.
Dean said police were on patrol in the area when they received information from concerned citizens about two wanted men.
As a result the police stoppe ...
Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson said yesterday there are increased reports of witness intimidation during trials of accused gang leaders and others, but stressed that laws are in place to protect the identities of witnesses.
In spite of the intimidation tactics, Maynard-Gibson encouraged people to come forward with information that could put criminals behind bars.
"We are finding a situation where more and more witnesses are being intimidated," she said at a press conference at the Office of the Attorney General.
"We want to remind persons in communities that have information, that the police need information to detect crime and to arrest persons who are believed to be guilty of crime.
"We have a very robust regime that works, relating to witness protection and witness anonymity. We have laws in place today where if the judge agrees on an application from the very beginning, we can protect the identity of witnesses.
"These laws are in place to enable people to safely bring information forward. Even at trial we have video conferencing, we have ways to disguise the identity of a witness to enable persons to testify behind a screen. . .as well as witness protection."
In The Bahamas' 2012 Human Rights Report released by the U.S. State Department, witness intimidation was listed as one of the most serious human rights issues in the country.
Maynard-Gibson also spoke of the significance of the crime bills which were debated in the House of Assembly on Wednesday.
She said the legislation is a message that the Christie administration will not tolerate gang activity and is serious in its commitment to curb crime.
Minister of State for Legal Affairs Damian Gomez said some of these criminal gangs have an international reach, stretching as far as Colombia.
Gomez led debate on the crime bills on Wednesday. He said they will deliver a "death blow" to organized criminal activity and will enhance the effectiveness of the judicial system.
The bills include the Evidence Amendment Bill, the Penal Code Amendment Bill, the Firearms Amendment Bill, the Anti-terrorism Amendment Bill, the Justice Protection Amendment Bill and the Prevention of Bribery Bill.
The amendments to the Penal Code are specifically intended to target gang activity.
According to the bill, anyone who is convicted of being in an unlawful gang or participates in or contributes to the activities of an unlawful gang would be liable to a fine of $500,000, and imprisonment of 20 years, subject to a minimum term of 15 years.
The bill seeks to bring the code in line with The Bahamas' international obligations to suppress organized crime under the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime.
Television reality show star Judge Joe Brown visited with
several Bahamian officials while on a recent trip to Nassau.
Judge Brown's stops included a courtesy call on Prime
Minister Perry Christie and another on Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes. He
capped off his stay by addressing lawyers in the Office of the Attorney
General, offering advice on crime prevention and legal procedures...
A total of 176 youngsters are currently participating in the Central Andros Crime Prevention Youth Camp, which got underway last month. The camp is held daily between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., with a base at the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre. There are also activities at the Wulff Road Boxing Square. Camp organizer James 'Killer' Coakley said that the main goal of the camp is to uplift the spirits of the various campers and keep them off the streets, thereby producing a safer Bahamas. Coakley is appealing for assistance from the government, particularly the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, for the upkeep of the camp. He thanked contributors Basil Neymour and John, James and Merton Musgrove for their assistance so far.
Photo by Kyle Smith / TNG
By DANA SMITH
THREE men are in police custody less than 24 hours after police held a news conference urging the public to assist in their capture.
On Wednesday during a press briefing at the National Crime Prevention Office at Police Headquarters, police had re-issued Wanted Bulletins for six men in connection with five separate murder investigations.
Elandro Emmerson Missick, Desmond Wilson, and Deangelo Wilson, were all named in Wednesday's briefing as wanted by police. As of yesterday afternoon police confirmed that all three were in custody in connection with two separate murders.
Police identified the three as "Most Wanted Murder Suspects."
CRIMINALS are always looking for a quick opportunity to steal a vehicle. By taking the following precautions you can prevent your vehicle from being stolen.
Never leave your keys in your car, always lock your car, never leave your car running.
Never leave personal belongings visible (for example laptops, iPods, phones and other such items).
Park in well-lit areas; park in attended lots and leave only the ignition/door key with the attendant.
Completely close your windows when parking; turn wheels to the side in driveways and parking lots; disable your vehicle when leaving it.
Etch your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on all windows and engrave expensive accessories to prevent thieves from dis ...
Through music it was the goal of the police to inspire school students to improve academically and learn about conflict resolution, with the formation of the Royal Bahamas Police Force Combined Youth Band two years ago, but in that short period, the group has already made a lasting impact on the lives of the 80-plus student members. It has since grown to be a lifelong learning ground and even a second family to many of the young people.
For students like 15-year-old Devante Rolle, prior to joining the band finding something constructive to do with his time was something he struggled with. The band was a lifesaver for the Government High School student. He was so disinterested in things around him that his grades were well below average and he couldn't care less about his academic pitfalls. All of that changed in a matter of weeks after he joined the RBPF combined band over a year ago. The moment he started to learn about music from the police officers and took what they were teaching him seriously, he said he felt something change in him.
"Before I joined the band I was pretty down. My grades were not good. I think I may have had a 1.00 grade point average... and I didn't care enough to want to do any better. But when I joined the band and started to play the instruments I just felt so good about myself."
He felt even better when he learned different instruments and the younger members looked to him for help. He said their turning to him for advice made him happy.
Rolle also learned life lessons from the strict regimen and band practice sessions which he was able to apply to his life. He now proudly boasts of a 2.5 grade point average. His change in attitude also brought him the honor of being named a prefect.
Discipline and responsibility are the key things that 14-year-old Nathan McPhee is learning from being a part of the combined band. One of the original members, McPhee, a student at St. John's College said he has seen his ability to respect others and lead strengthened.
The dedication and patience he had to learn in order to play his instrument overflowed into his school work and he is now is scoring a 79.5 out of 100 percent average in his classes. A fundamental lesson he learns weekly with the band is how to be a better person and not give in to violence or anger, no matter his emotional state. This is something he hopes other young people can be a part of as well.
Band newcomer Ashton Archer, 13, who joined four months ago, said he has already seen the positive impact it is having on his life. The H.O. Nash student said it allows him to interact with students from other schools and form relationships despite them all coming from different walks of life.
The seventh grade student said he is keeping his grades up in order to stay in the band and even aspires to be a police officer one day because of the band's influence.
"I like that the band is organized and I meet new people. I am really learning to be respectful and disciplined as well. It's helping me to do well in school and I definitely would encourage other students to be a part of the band, because it's a lot of fun and you get to really learn about playing music. It's really a great after-school program to be a part of," said Archer.
The combined youth band is open to young people between the ages of seven and 17 from throughout The Bahamas.
The band's primary purpose is crime prevention, and the instructors are committed to achieving the program's objectives which entails teaching music, instilling discipline, conflict resolution, respect for authority and property, community service and effective communication, as well as motivating members to pursue academic excellence.
Band leaders include band director Sergeant Theodore Campbell; deputy director Sergeant Dwight Rolle; drill master and disciplinarian PC 3079 Loran Bailey, who is leader of the percussion line; assistant conductor PC 3403 Anthony Capron, who is in charge of the woodwind section; Kendia Barr, band coordinator and Lynn Munnings, president of the parent association.
"Prior to the establishment of the combined band we had different community police youth bands and we still do, but the combined band is different," said Sergeant Campbell. "It is something of prestige that the average community police band member can now aspire to joining. We are having great success thus far and I am really happy with the way things are going."
But things were not always smooth sailing. He said police officers had a task getting the young people to get accustomed to each other and that there was a lot of turmoil for the first two weeks of the summer program. He said by the end of the third week something beautiful happened and that they all became a family.
"The kind of comradery the kids had was unbelievable. We decided we didn't want to just send them back out to their community bands or their perspective homes, so it was decided that the band would be a long-term thing and we would continue to cater to all the communities' top members."
Band members have weekly practices with their community bands and meet up once a week at the police band room on Thompson Boulevard next to the Police College for practice.
Because they meet once per week, Sergeant Campbell said the sessions are intense and they really push students to reach their potential in music, as well as learn about peacefully dealing with everyday emotions effectively.
Besides learning about anger management and conflict resolutions, the band practices also serve as an impetus for the students to excel academically. Members can get help with subjects like Mathematics and English. Their goal is to have every band member with at least a 2.5 GPA. While many of the students are excelling and others are showing steady progress, the few that are not are still encouraged within the band. The band director does not make them leave. He instead rewards those doing well with privileges and recognition which usually urges the more lax students to buckle up so they can be recognized the next time around.
Since the band's inception proper music etiquette and skill has been taught extensively which has resulted in 33 band members being offered music scholarships at Norfolk State University in Virginia. Sergeant Campbell said so far, four of their members have been able to take up the scholarship offer and sought post-secondary education.
Other members are sitting Royal School music theory examinations . In February they had 16 members sitting the exam. The results showed five passed with distinctions, eight with merits and three with passes.
"This alone is saying to us that the students are doing really well and grasping what they are learning in a relatable way," said the band director. "This is only the beginning and we are proud of the strides they are taking."
And they're not just practicing and sitting examinations, the band has been able to put on display what they've learned at a number of events, including the official visit of Prince Harry, the Independence Cultural Festival, The Battle of the Bands, Junkanoo Summer Festival, Union Village Festival, Band Encounter and the National Youth March.
Sergeant Campbell said through the band, their goal is to always expose the young people to positive things so they can see what they are worth and not be tempted to get into problems. He hopes their continued good work and national performances will show them they have potential and that they should keep on trying.
"The band is not the end all for the kids. We want to be a helping hand and show them the way. But for some this is what they love so we don't just let them go at 17 if they don't want to leave. We can then send them over to the Police Cadet program which will prepare them for joining the Police Force Band, Defence Force Band or even the Prison band one day," said Sergeant Campbell. "We want to inspire them no matter what to pursue dreams and stay out of trouble. Keep positivity in their minds and see music as a discipline that will benefit them later in life. They are doing well so far and we can't wait to see the positive and productive citizens that will be formed from this program in time."
As the body of Alex Oltime was rolled out of his Palm Tree Avenue store where he was gunned down on Saturday evening, anguished screams filled the evening air.
Oltime, owner of Oltime Convenience Store, was shot in the neck once around 6 p.m. Forced to stand behind the police tape, family members, friends and neighbors had to be restrained as police processed the scene. About 100 area residents gathered at the scene to mourn the death of Oltime, who was said to be well liked in the community.
Superintendent Stephen Dean, officer in charge of the National Crime Prevention Office, reported that the killing seems to be the result of a robbery gone bad. "A gunman entered Oltime Convenience Store where he demanded cash. At the time the proprietor attempted to get the cash from the register when he was fatally shot in the neck," Supt. Dean said.
The victim died on the scene. A number of people were in the store at the time of the shooting, however, none of them was injured.
"Police have launched an island-wide manhunt for the person responsible for the gruesome homicide. Police are concerned with matters like this that are impacting business owners. We will not stop. Every stone will be turned over until we find the killer responsible for this homicide. We need the public to rally with us. If you know who the killer is, we want you to turn him in. The police will be aggressively pursuing this matter," Dean warned.
He also made a special appeal to businessmen in addition to those who continue to own illegal weapons.
"Put cameras in your business establishments. The time is now. As for persons who possess illegal firearms, the police will spare no efforts pursing you. The police will be coming after you aggressively. Anyone harboring criminals, it's a serious criminal offense," he added.
The gunman was described as a black male, who stands about 5'9 to 5'11 in height.
Oltime's murder comes three days after a pregnant woman was killed in front of her son. Beresha Glinton-Lewis, who was five month's pregnant, was shot on Wednesday night.
Dean said the violence in the country must come to an end. "This calls for all Bahamians to come together to do what we can. We need all hands on deck," Dean added.
Oltime's murder brings the murder count up to 92 for the year so far - two murders away from equalling the record which was established last year.
In other crime news, another man was shot on Saturday.
Dean said a 20-year-old male was shot in his lower back shortly after noon at Charles Vincent Street and Moore Avenue. The victim was taken to hospital by emergency medical services personnel, where he is detained in stable condition.
Police are investigating and are following significant leads into the matter.