By: Hon. Edwin A. Astwood
Leader of the Opposition
Drugs?? Lights?? Gun Amnesty??
#TurksandCaicos, September 6, 2022 – Like many concerned citizens, I listened to the Premier’s Press Conference on Monday evening. I wanted to hear about firm, decisive, calculated measures that will immediately take place in the community of Five Cays, and then wanted to hear the general crime fighting/prevention plan, of the Premier and his team, for the entire country.
We heard Premiere Misick and his team, in no exact words, tell the vast majority of responsible, hardworking residents of Five Cays, ‘You’re on your own.’
I heard nothing that would make the residents of Five Cays feel safer in their homes this night, nor in the coming nights. Additionally, I heard nothing that would make our people in Five Cays feel safer during the daytime. This is unacceptable to the people, they needed to hear about containment and preventative measures that will be put into action immediately.
Instead, we heard the Honourable Premier saying much about drugs being the cause of the violence in these communities, really drugs Mr. Premier?
We heard the Premier and Minister of Education talking about putting in 20 more streetlights and cutting back bushes. Is that the best the Premier and his team can come up with? Do they know that many incidents of crime happen in the daylight, and in places where there are little to no bushes? Lights are needed, and bushes need to be cut back, but these could NOT be the answers given in a press conference, after one of the deadliest weekends in our country’s history.
We also heard the Hon. Premier and his team talk about another gun amnesty. How successful has that been in the past in preventing violent crimes? Don’t they know that persons who give up guns are usually individuals who have no intentions of committing a crime? It appears that they are clueless when it comes to these matters.
No self-proclaimed criminal would give up all their weapons, and let their so-called enemies or competitors have all the firepower. That does not make any sense to me, and I don’t think it would make any sense to them, and we should never underestimate those individuals who engage in criminal activities.
The Hon. Premier and his team cannot, and will not be offering the people of Five Cays, and the rest of the country a real answer to their questions. They won’t offer a better vision or a new set of ideas. To date, the country does not know anything about the current PNP administration’s Crime Prevention Plan. Do they have one?
Under my leadership and a PDM government, we will be committed to properly dealing with crime in the Turks and Caicos Islands. We also stand ready to help or lead the way for this failing PNP administration on this crime issue now.
A PDM government, under my leadership, would have requested immediately having tactical forces patrolling the streets of five cays all day and night until the problem is eradicated.
A PDM government, under my leadership, would immediately pass a Supplementary Bill through the House of Assembly for 15 million dollars to:
- Hire past local police officers, and attain the services of gang violence specialist officers from around the region and elsewhere.
- Purchase of 6 mobile police stations to be dispersed throughout the communities of Providenciales.
- Purchasing of 3 additional patrol boats, with a heavy machine gun, and auxiliary medium machine gun.
- Purchasing 2 armored combat vehicles armed with a heavy machine gun.
- Purchasing advanced drone surveillance equipment with the hiring of complementary operators.
A PDM government, under my leadership, will act swiftly in amending legislation to;
- Lengthen the sentence time for violent crimes and those in possession of an unlicensed firearm.
- Removing the chance of parole for those committing murder in the first degree.
- Not granting bail to any unlicensed firearm offender.
- And for the most heinous and gruesome crimes, through consultation and direction the people of the entire country, consider whether or not to implement the death penalty (lethal Injection).
- Ensure the protections of officers are in place for when it was objectively reasonable to use deadly force, based on the facts and circumstances known to the police officer at that particular time the decision to use deadly force was made.
A PDM government, under my leadership, is committed to acting quickly in immediately dealing with some of the root causes of crime, in particular, unemployment and lack of opportunities;
- Provide 200 long-term contracts (one year) yearly, each valuing $40,000, specifically targeting the most vulnerable young adults (this adds up to $8M per year).
- Providing 400 additional scholarships targeting those interested in nontraditional scholarship areas – the performing arts, Visual arts, graphic designing, agriculture, aquaculture (fish farming), mechanics, furniture making, cooking, etc. (this adds up to $8M per year).
- Provide an easier streamlined path for young people with business ideas to Access Capital, through grants ranging from $40,000 to $70,000.
I call upon Premier Misick and his government to immediately bring a supplementary bill of $10 -15 million to the House of Assembly for crime detection /prevention:
I would recommend using it for immediately hiring capable past local police officers, bringing in seasoned gang violence tactical officers from around the region and elsewhere- and offering them a very attractive compensation package with the desired protections. I also recommend using the appropriated funds used for the Purchasing of 6 mobile police stations for Providenciales, 3 additional patrol boats, 2 armored combat vehicles armed with a heavy machine gun, and an advanced drone surveillance system.
The PDM wants our country to succeed. We want our people, visitors, and investors to feel and be safe. We want this PNP government to understand that the true measure of our prosperity is more than just a running tally of every budget sheet and annual surplus reports. It is about the happiness and level of success of our people.
We the PDM see the measure of prosperity NOT just by our total GDP, but by how well the typical family is doing, and whether they can go as far as their dreams and hard work will take them.
I don’t care how many ways you try to explain it: People are not living their best lives. Private Jets, condos, and real estate sales are not people. People are people. And our people are now further away from living their best lives, and are now afraid to live in their own homes and their communities.
Act now or get the H*** out the way.
Jamaica declares DENGUE OUTBREAK; control measures amped up
#Jamaica, September 29, 2023 – As Jamaica battles a dengue outbreak, the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development is taking steps to fortify the country’s resilience to the mosquito borne disease.
The Department announced it will be providing funds for the emergency response to contain the dengue outbreak, according to Desmond McKenzie, Minister of Local Government, as reported by JIS.
McKenzie was in talks with Journalists at the Spanish Court Hotel in Kingston this past Wednesday, September 27th when he revealed that the resources will come from the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA).
In fact, work, he expressed, is already being done as he informed that discussions have started with Jamaica’s Minister of Health and Wellness to see to the roll out of clean-up programmes to ensure communities do not morph into breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
It was reported that: “International health authorities have reported elevated dengue fever activity across multiple areas in Jamaica, with more than 560 suspected cases (78 confirmed) reported Jan. 1-Sept. 22. This is compared to the 59 cases reported over a similar period in 2022. Majority of the confirmed cases were reported in Kingston, Saint Andrew, Saint Catherine, and Saint Thomas. The Jamaican Ministry of Health & Wellness has deployed vector control workers across the island to high-risk communities. This report represents the most complete data available as of Sept. 29.”
These clean up initiatives, the minister points out, will be in operation in the days to come and they will commence in areas identified by the Ministry of Health; the plan is to later extend the efforts other communities.
In continuation, Audley Gordon, Executive Director of the NSWMA, spoke of vulnerable areas which he termed the “problematic sites”, informing that they are scheduled for action, including the removal of bulky waste by his teams, adding that the “NSWMA is fully ready to play its part in what we are asked to do, starting this weekend”.
Not only will the programmes clean the respective areas, they will call community members to practice proper garbage disposal, as people often fail to acknowledge the importance of these hygienic habits.
New Look, New Tactics as TCI Border Force set to start October
#TurksandCaicos, September 29, 2023 – The Turks and Caicos Border Force will be up and running by next month according to Arlington Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services who gave a national update on the progress of the squad during a recent parliamentary meeting.
“We now have a date of October 30th, 2023 for the launch of the first phase,” he explained. The force has been described as ‘revolutionary by Anya Williams, Deputy Governor.
Musgrove was speaking in the House of Assembly on September 20th and revealed that this initial phase will incorporate the Customs and Border Protection agencies as well as the Intelligence and Corporate Units.
Musgrove explained that the Corporate Unit would serve as a sort of auditor for the Border Force and the Ministry.
“Our Corporate Unit will include our assurance functions that will audit our processes and our actions to ensure that we are upholding the mission, vision, and principles of our Border Force,” he said.
The minister is promising updated operating structures, agents with new skills and a new look with updated uniforms, all in an effort to tighten the country’s security at its very porous borders.
The Force is aiming to secure the TCI against human and drug trafficking (which in recent weeks have shown an alarming correlation), arms trafficking, poaching and more.
“Not only will we look different, but we will also work differently – and that is what is key,” the minister promised.
The Force will be under the control of Emilio Seymour who was appointed Director General back in April.
More security features, including the long-awaited container scanners for the country’s ports, are also on the Minister’s agenda.
CUBAN MIGRANTS DETAINED ALONG EXUMA CHAIN
Defence Headquarters 28 SEP ’23: HMBS P-45 under the command of Chief Petty Officer Acadia Smith detained a group of Cuban migrants in Cistern Cay, Exuma on September 27, 2023, due to information received from a Good Samaritan vessel in the area that handed them over to the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.
Members of HMBS P-45 retrieved twenty-eight (28) Cuban nationals and transported them to HMBS Coral Harbour in New Providence. All individuals appeared to be in good health and will undergo further processing and assessment by Immigration officials.
The Royal Bahamas Defence Force remains dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in guarding our heritage and appreciates the sharing of information and intelligence provided by the boating community to affect migrants and other unlawful interdictions at sea.
(For additional information, contact the RBDF Public Relations Department or visit our official website at www.rbdf.gov.bs. Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates and explore our engaging content on our YouTube channel).
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