Minister of National Security the Hon. Marvin Dames said, on September 21, 2020, that he was “extremely pleased” to announce that the International Association of Chiefs of Police awarded the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) with the coveted Leadership in
Community Policing Award 2020, for the National Neighborhood Watch Program. “The Royal Bahamas Police Force and all of the councils throughout The Bahamas (in reference to the National Neighbourhood Watch Council) ought to be proud of this fact, that you are, indeed, world leaders,” Minister Dames said, during a press conference at his Ministry, on University Drive.
Among those present for the event were Permanent Secretary Marco Rolle; Under Secretary Cheryl Darville; Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle; National Coordinator for Neighbourhood Watch Superintendent Wilton Johnson; Advisor of Neighbourhood Watch, Superintendent of Police Dr. Chaswell Hanna; Co-Chair of the NNWC Keno Wong; former NNWC co- chairs; and police and NNWC stakeholders.
“This high-level global recognition is another example of how the international community continues to take note of the how this program directly connects with the police and other stakeholders, under a unified collaborative entity tasked with strengthening partnerships to improve public safety,” Minister Dames added. “By implementing a quality improvement process with crime prevention practitioners that focuses on teaching and learning from the field about new crime trends, and effective prevention strategies, members of the community can understand that the renewed relationships with the police are indeed long-term.” The press conference also served to present vehicles that were additions to the National Neighbourhood Watch Program.
While giving a brief review into the formation of the NNWC, Minister Dames noted that, upon coming to office in 2018, his Government set out to improve the nation’s approach to crime prevention, not only at the community level, but also at a national level. “The Ministry of National Security immediately went to work and designed – along with the Royal Bahamas Police Force and communities throughout New Providence and The Bahamas – an innovative community policing movement known as the NNWC,” he said. “In partnership with the Royal Bahamas Police Force, and other crime watch and neighbourhood watch groups, the NNWC provides a space for civic minded Bahamians to serve as a pivotal support arm for law enforcement within their respective communities.” Minister Dames stated that, on Monday, April 30, 2018, Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis officially launched the project during a ceremony at Police Headquarters. He noted that Prime Minister Minnis challenged all who wanted to make their neighborhoods safer to work in collaboration with local law enforcement to reduce community crime and improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods.
“Within the Council, members help to define crime prevention by not only focusing on personal safety and property protection; but also by staying ahead of emerging crime trends and relying on community engagement and social health,” Minister Dames said. When the program began, there were only 11 crime-watch groups in existence, mostly on the capital island of New Providence, he pointed out. “Today, we have some 139 groups across several islands including 96 in the capital, 19 on Grand Bahama, 7 in Abaco and 16 on the island of Eleuthera,” he added. “Through a robust 40-hour training program at the Police College, all of these groups and their members have been accredited by the NNWC.
“Graduates are considered to be crime prevention practitioners, as they have knowledge and exposure to crime prevention practices.” Minister Dames said that the global community also continues to take note of the fact that the NNWC has been successful in making use of the latest technological advancements. Video Integration Centers (VICs), for example, have been established in various communities, he said. “This includes personal and commercial cameras being tied into the local police stations, the police control room or a community command center,” he added. As a result of the strategies and partnerships with the residents through the NNWC, Minister Dames said, offences have showed notable decreases.
“According to official crime figures which compared 2018 incidents to 2019 incidents, burglary decreased by 18%, housebreaking decreased by 22%, and stolen vehicles decreased by some 25%,” he said. Minister Dames thanked and congratulated Commissioner of Police Mr. Paul Rolle, NNWC Co-Chairs Mr. Keno Wong and Ms. Alesha Hart, National Coordinator Superintendent Wilton Johnson, as well as the divisional liaison officers for their hard work, commitment and support in that progressive
partnership with members of the community.
Minister Dames added that the NNWC had provided another example of how community policing was the best defense against crime. “It is not the investments in technology or tactics for the police, but rather the citizens who are the eyes and ears of their communities – the builders of their communities,” he said.
“An appropriate level of peace has indeed been restored in Bahamian communities; however, there is much more left to be done,” Minister Dames added. “But when you see what is taking place on the ground level, you can be excited about what the future holds. This is only the beginning.”