Audience members posed for a shot with Commissioner Ferguson, commemorating his 2019 presentation in Eleuthera.

Commissioner of Police, Mr. Anthony Ferguson, QPM., was invited on island by the Rotary Club of Eleuthera recently, to present on the topic of ‘Peace and Conflict Resolution’.  The presentation hosted at the Eleuthera Arts & Cultural Center (EACC) in Tarpum Bay saw a capacity audience of Rotary and Rotaract members, as well as members of the public in attendance at the weekly meeting.

Expressing his thoughts on a practical path to peace, Commissioner Ferguson encouraged those present, saying, “There are tangible personal actions we can take to advance peace in our individual lives, in our homes, our workplaces, our schools, places of worship, communities, on our islands and by extension throughout our country…  We can start by showing love, kindness, forgiveness and support for each other. We can be genuine and trustworthy in our dealings and finally we can exercise a level of understanding, patience and tolerance where and when necessary.”

Anthony Ferguson Police CommissionerSharing some of the crime statistics for the island of Eleuthera, Commissioner Ferguson revealed that issues existed, but he opined that the island was trending in the right direction in most areas, saying, “Murder, Attempted Murder, Manslaughter, Attempted Rape and Armed Robbery remained at 0 for both 2017 and 2018, which is very good!  In 2017, there were 5 incidents of Rape and only 2 in 2018, a reduction of 60%. There were 2 incidents of Armed Robbery in 2017 and 5 in 2018, an increase of 150%. Robbery remained at 0 in 2017 but climbed to 2 in 2018, reflecting an increase. Total Crime Against Persons climbed from 7 in 2017 to 15 in 2018, an increase of 114%.  Encouragingly though, in 2018, the island experienced reductions of 36% in Burglary, 5% in Housebreaking, 50% in Stealing From Vehicles and 100% in Stolen Vehicles. However, Shop breaking increased by 15% and Stealing increased by 2% in 2018.”

He continued, “Comparing the months of January 2018 versus 2019.  Murder, Attempted Murder, Manslaughter, Attempted Rape and Attempted Robbery remained at 0 for January 2018 and 2019.  Preliminary figures indicate reductions in Rape, Armed Robbery and Robbery. There was 1 incident of Unlawful Sexual Intercourse in January 2019 and 0 in 2018.  Further, there were 3 Shop breakings in both January of 2018 and 2019 and 1 Stealing From a Vehicle for both months. No incidents of Stolen Vehicles occurred in January of 2018 and 2019.  January 2019 saw a reduction of 67% in Burglary and a 43% reduction in Housebreaking.  The combined totals of Crime Against Persons and Crime Against Property indicate an overall reduction of 29% in 2019.  This year is still young and the island is going in the right direction.”

He credited the local RBPF, saying, “Your Royal Bahamas Police Force has been working around the clock in enforcing our vision to create safer communities; our mission, to deliver our service as a resourceful and professional police force; our mandate, to maintain law and order, preserve the peace, prevent and detect crime, apprehend offenders and to enforce all laws with which we are charged all in sync with the plans and strategies laid out in my 2018 Policing Plan.”

Last year, shared Commissioner Ferguson, “The Bahamas experienced an 8% reduction in overall crime and, for the first time since 2009, our murder count was below 100.”  The Commissioner did highlight, however, that of the 91 murders that took place throughout the country in 2018, 26 or 29% of them were known to have resulted from conflicts.

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Above: Police Commissioner Anthony Ferguson, presenting to the room at the EACC in Tarpum Bay.

Expanding on this issue, and sharing some of the ways the Police Force planned to move forward in resolving it as much as possible, he stated, “Conflicts are as old as creation. We met them here and we will definitely leave them here.  As long as there are people with different personalities, values and opinions, there will always be conflicts. Now, while conflicts tend to have mostly negative connotations, fortunately, some conflicts are necessary and can spark innovation and induce unorthodox methods of resolving problems or situations…

“It is obvious from the conflicts we see, that many of the perpetrators do not know how to conduct themselves in social environments or simply choose not to, so here are a few things we in the police force will do to resolve conflicts in our nation: – Personally engage youth with conflict resolution and other anti-crime messaging, monitor and mentor young people in schools and the justice system, strengthen relationships with the Ministry of Education, work with community leaders to assist in creating more peer to peer programs, and provide options and alternatives through expanded Police Cadet and Summer Youth programs, community bands, as well as increased participation in Career Fairs.”

Commenting, following his presentation, Commissioner Ferguson touched on his experience as a young policeman stationed in Eleuthera, and his dedication to building community relationships, “I first came here to Eleuthera in 1981, fresh out of the Police Training College.  My first posting was Rock Sound, then I moved into Spanish Wells, and back to Tarpum Bay, then Governor’s Harbour, Hatchet Bay, and Harbour Island.  I was here from 1981 to 1986, so I had quite an extensive career in Eleuthera.  I’ve always loved this place.  It’s a place that put me in line to become the Commissioner – coming straight out of training, this gave me the grounding and confidence.

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Police Commissioner, Anthony Ferguson, presented with a certificate of appreciation by young Interactors and Rotoractors.

“That’s also why I am so passionate about Policing and their efforts within communities, having a Family Island background myself.  I was born and grew up on the island of Exuma.  So, I am very passionate about the interaction of Police and the public within our communities.  That’s why I’m here tonight, and I was really excited when I was asked by Jacquie (from the Rotary Club of Eleuthera) to come – as busy as I am.  I was happy to be able to ask the Police in Eleuthera to support their communities, and the communities to support the Police in their efforts.  That’s the only way to keep safer communities.”