By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
FOLLOWING an increase in murders and other serious offences last year, Police Commissioner Clayton Fernander warned that there will be a “zero tolerance” approach to crime this year as he highlighted several new crime fighting strategies geared towards tackling gun violence.
The police chief said there will be increased patrols, more targeted operations in hot spot areas and expanded resources, including a new fleet of police vehicles.
“We’re going to have a zero-tolerance approach to crime,” Commissioner Fernander said during a press briefing at RPBF’s headquarters Friday. “We want to expand (the) capacity of Operation Ceasefire that will continue to target prolific offenders and wanted persons.
“Also, covert operations – we’re going to continue that and we’re talking about provisional operations and the uniform branch is continuing to be visible out there, continuing to do an excellent job in the communities.
“I want to see more (feet) on the ground, boots as we would call it, within the communities to continue to walk in these communities.”
In addition to this, there will be more active police mobile patrols, Commissioner Fernander said, adding that some squads will be working four-to-twelve shifts.
“That four-to-twelve shifts will be on the road in the Montel Heights area. You have the foot patrol and the mobile patrol and they’re spending that four-to-twelve shift in Montel Heights,” he added.
“The van is there being manned. All of the computer systems (are) set up to be able to do name checks.”
Noting that prevention is key, Commissioner Fernander said officers will be taking a more serious approach when dealing with minor crimes.
He admitted that there were times when officers dropped the ball in this regard.
“If someone comes to the van to make a complaint that ‘John Brown slap me, I want to make a complaint.’ We take the complaint right there and (there will be) a zero (tolerance) approach to these minor crimes to avoid it being escalated,” he added.
“And we fell down a lot with these same minor crimes where names are called, and we don’t pay attention and then it escalates to something different.”
He also revealed that police will introduce a new and improved saturation patrol system and foreshadowed the arrival of new police vehicles.
“We are going to upgrade the fleet. We’re changing the vehicles to 100 trucks,” Commissioner Fernander said.
“We did our homework. We know the areas, the hotspots. The trucks will be on the ground as early as (this) week. They’re coming in piece by piece. They’re already signed off on and by mid-February, this will be in full swing.”
The police chief continued: “We’re also going to up our motorcycles (to) 50 to assist with traffic management; 100 police reserves — new, young men and also of today, we have 120 officers’ recruitment going into training today (Friday).”
He said 100 of those are located in New Providence and the remaining 20 in Grand Bahama.
He noted that the government in Turks and Caicos is sending an additional 19 officers to The Bahamas for training.
The commissioner said the police also have a plan to deal with people out on bail who breach the conditions of their release.
Police reported that 35 suspects had killed someone while out on bail last year.
“What we are doing now is once you have breached your bail, you are arrested and put before the court and now, when they go to court, they are charged for breach of bail and the magistrate now will remand him so that they can make an application to the Supreme Court to revoke the initial bail and that turnaround time now, you would see a week and a half or two weeks,” he also said.
“So those individuals now they are charged with the breach and now we’re looking to revoke the initial bail that they’re on and the turnaround time now from the Supreme Court because the magistrate or the judge warned them that if you breached them while you’re out on bail, your bail is revoked.
“So now we are working closely with the system to do just that, and we are reaping some great success with respect to those individuals who continue to offend while on bail.”