Two police-involved shootings in as many days again leads us to raise questions about such incidents.
First of all, we should be clear – with the number of guns on the streets and criminals willing to use them, being a police officer is no easy task. Officers face danger on a regular basis and have to be prepared to meet it.
In yesterday’s incident, police say they saw a man selling drugs and armed with a firearm. Police say the man “engaged the officers”, which ended up with him being shot. He was taken to hospital, and was pronounced dead.
Police said they recovered an illegal firearm and a quantity of drugs at the scene.
A woman at the scene who said she was the victim’s girlfriend said she saw the incident – and that her boyfriend was cleaning his yard when he saw police and tried to run away.
She said he was shot once, in his back, and that he didn’t have any weapons or drugs.
In the previous day’s incident, a man was taken to hospital in critical condition after a police chase that ended in Nassau Village and a gunfight with officers, police said.
Different stories are, of course, nothing unusual in any incident – every day the courts have to resolve cases with different sides telling different versions of what happened.
And that reinforces the need for transparency – the clearer police can be about what took place in these incidents, the more faith the public will have in their actions.
We continue to await the long-promised body cameras for police officers, which would help to give a clearer insight into these events.
But alongside that, when we know where so many trouble spots might be for incidents, why do we not have a wider net of closed circuit television cameras. CCTV footage would not only help in police shooting incidents, it would help by recording all manner of other crimes.
Indeed, if monitored live, it could have been used in the first police shooting incident to monitor the path of the fleeing car and help officers find the best way to intercept it.
Add cameras in police stations to show how suspects are treated in custody too and you have a continuous chain of evidence that can be shown to courts.
Investigations are of course ongoing in these incidents and we do not know if anything untoward happened – but technology, properly used, could show what took place, even when everything was done the right way.
Technology can help the police – and it can reinforce our trust in them. Let’s make the most of it – and let’s hear more about when we can expect such measures to be in place.
A tragic case - but what can we learn?
The story of the mother found guilty of murdering her baby daughter by lighting her on fire is beyond tragic.
It is a terrible court case to read about – and it must have been difficult for jurors to endure as they heard the evidence.
Given that the accused, Phillipa Marshall, said she killed her daughter because demons told her to do it, it’s hard to imagine that there weren’t questions about her mental fitness to face trial, so it is surprising that the verdict was returned so quickly – in less than an hour.
The accused’s lawyer, Bjorn Ferguson, has pledged to appeal the case, saying that the case “highlights the fact that mental issues in our country are still not being taken seriously”. His words echo the words of Health Minister Dr Duane Sands this week, who said “we have a challenge with mental illness in The Bahamas”.
The jury heard the evidence and were firm in their decision - the rest shall go on to be decided either with a sentence or through the appeals process.
Nevertheless, the questions over mental health are a reminder to society to take mental illness more seriously, and devote resources to those suffering from it.
We keep hearing calls for more support for those with mental illness - it’s time to turn those calls into action. For the sake of all those in need.