As reported last week in the ‘Tribune’ and previously in ‘The Abaconian,’ the Abaco Police force has only one vessel to patrol Abaco and enforce the law. With the high level of boat thefts concerning residents and visitors, many feel one vessel is insufficient.
On June 20, 2015 Police in Abaco, with assistance from civilians, apprehended three thieves in a stolen boat making its way to Sandy Point. Since then, it is apparent that boat thefts in Abaco have decreased as compared to earlier in the summer and spring.
Additionally, a stolen vessel in Berry Islands was recovered on July 21, 2015 with joint action by the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the United States Coast Guard. Two men were apprehended on the stolen vessel. However one of the suspects, Clancy Dean, escaped police custody.
Despite recent success, the lack of vessels and resources for Abaco authorities to use continues to put local police at a disadvantage.
Assistant Superintendent Carlton Adderley of the RBPF’s Marine Support Services, points to “limited funds” compromising police efforts to patrol and apprehend boat thieves.
In the 2015/2016 Budget Debate, Prime Minister the Right Honourable Perry Christie, emphasized that the government had invested “significant” amounts of money in the Royal Bahamas Police Force and “Investments in police equipment, in the form of cars, surveillance and protection equipment, are highlighted in this year’s capital budget.”
However, the RBPF’s budget has been slashed by $3,111,335 for the 2015/2016 as compared to last year. Though new allocations for “equipment” and “instruments and apparatus equipment” total $2,500,000 there still remains a decrease in total funding of $611,335. Presumably money earmarked for “equipment” cannot be used to pay and hire officers.
At the beginning of 2015 there were under sixty officers to police the entirety of Abaco.