COP: Assertion that COVID-19 pandemic led to a decrease in crime is “nonsense”

73 murders recorded in 2020

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Overall crime decreased by 16 percent in 2020, statistics released by Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle yesterday revealed.

During his annual press briefing at police headquarters, Rolle advised that crime against the person decreased by 21 percent, with 712 incidents last year compared to 896 in 2019.

Homicides decreased by 23 percent, with 73 killings recorded in 2020 compared to 95 in 2019.

Of the killings, 59 were on New Providence, nine on Grand Bahama and five on the Family Islands, with 62 percent of victims being between the ages of 18 and 35.

Additionally, 57 percent of the homicides involved fatal gunshot wounds.

“This the least amount of persons killed in a year in 15 years,” Rolle touted.

“We have recorded a constant decline in homicides since we peaked in 2015 when we recorded 145 murders.”

He noted that “retaliation and conflict” were the most common motives for murders, being the cause of some 54 percent of killings last year.

This graph provided by the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) shows nationwide crime statistics for 2021.

The commissioner noted that while there was a recent spike in murders at the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021, those incidents “could be related to the seasonal impacts, loosening of restrictions on lockdown and changes in police activities as more emphasis was placed on social distancing“.

Rolle advised police were able to solve 75 percent of all murder cases in 2020.

“Despite the effects of the coronavirus, these numbers were achieved primarily through the dedication of the hard work of the men and women of the Royal Bahamas Police Force,” he said.

The commissioner also revealed that armed robberies saw a 41 percent decrease, with 313 incidents compared to 531 in 2019, and robberies decreased by four percent with 91 incidents compared to 95 in 2019.

Meanwhile, crimes against the property decreased by 15 percent, with 3,519 incidents compared to 4,128 incidents in 2019.

Stolen vehicles decreased by 19 percent, with 229 incidents.

Rolle indicated that Hondas were the most targeted vehicles, with Accords and Fits being the predominant models stolen.

COVID-19 pandemic on crime

Asked whether he believes the decrease in crime could be attributed to the restrictions in place throughout the pandemic, Rolle called that assertion “nonsense”.

“If you look at those figures for the last 10 years, you would have seen we had a constant decline in crime,” he said.

A police officer stops a vehicle during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

“I acknowledge the fact that we had this pandemic last year, but the work that officers did, as far as I’m concerned, contributed to the overall reduction.”

Rolle commended officers for their efforts, noting: “It ain’t got nothing to do with COVID. I never saw COVID go and lock nobody up. I ain’t see COVID on patrol. We were out there.”

He advised that just over 1,450 officers were on patrol during the pandemic while the rest were handling core policing strategies.

The Bahamas recorded its first case of COVID-19 on March 15 and a state of emergency was declared on March 17.

As a result, the government implemented wide-sweeping restrictions, including curfews, sheltering in place and the closure of establishments.

During the year, there were 4,275 breaches to the COVID-19 Emergency Powers Order, which included 2,370 curfew violations.

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