Categorized | National News

DNA: PLP’s Policing Initiative Misguided

Democratic National Alliance (DNA) Chairman Mark Humes, in criticising the government’s recently launched school policing programme, said the overall management of the education system needs careful and reflective thought, not “pointless, knee-jerk political actions” that in the end will prove futile and a waste of good taxpayers’ dollars.

Last Friday, Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald, Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade and Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) President Belinda Wilson launched a school-based policing programme, which is a component of Urban Renewal 2.0.

Minister Fitzgerald said the programme is part of the government’s efforts to “break the back of crime and violence and to create a safer Bahamas.”

But, Mr. Humes, in his capacity as the DNA’s spokesperson for education, said the policing initiative is “unimaginative and misguided.” In fact, he said the programme shows that the Christie administration is still out of touch with and “blind to the realities of delinquency in our educational system.”

“This act of putting armed police officers on our public school campuses to preempt or cut the rate of violence and delinquency among our middle and high school students is a knee-jerk farce. It is not only a crying shame, but it is also a show of unimaginative laziness on behalf of this administration and the education leaders who support the initiative,” Mr. Humes said.

“Like the commissioner of police and education officials, we in the DNA also believe that “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure” and that there should be a zero tolerance approach to school violence. But having police officers in schools will be totally ineffective in addressing whatever the underlying or root problems are with the child, or the child’s family, or the child’s community that have led to his or her disruptive and violent behaviour.”

He continued, “As such, all the talk of “prevention is better than cure” is nothing more than just hot-air talk for the sake of talking and good public relations. This must stop, and our minister of education, commissioner of police, and teacher union head should not allow themselves to be used to perpetuate untruths on the public for the sake of good public relations. Our educational system is in need of real, non-public relations, non-political solutions.”

The DNA spokesman said he wants the minister, the commissioner and the union president to explain in clear and rational terms, without all the political rhetoric, how much more effective police officers will be in rooting out crime and criminal activity in the school system than school administrators and the teachers who interact with these students on a consistent basis.

“One of the realities is that the presence of police officers on our public school campuses will only continue to create a mindset and perpetuate a perverse untruth in the minds of our nation’s youth that the police and the criminal justice system are the be-all and end-all solution to our social ills; that they – young people – are solely accountable to an organisation and a system for which they have little to no respect,” he said.

“It will continue to create a mindset where our young students see themselves as criminal and bad in every sense of the word, thinking that they are the boss of things and in need of police control.”

Mr. Humes said he does not believe that police presence will prevent students from bringing weapons onto school premises if they feel threatened.

“The presence of the police will not stop a malicious fight from occurring if students are having poor relational issues inside or outside of the school premises and I am sure if the police were bold enough to release statistics, they would probably reflect that there were less reported violence and violent acts among our school children when police were not present versus when they were,” he said.

“There is nothing wrong with police officers patrolling or walking the beat in the vicinity of the public schools to make sure that our school children are safe in their journeys to and from school, but there is something wrong however when the police officers are being used to do what the public purse hires and pays for school boards, administrators, and teachers to do – maintain order in the schools for which they have been given charge.”

Mr. Humes said if the government is interested in decreasing violence and delinquency in schools there must be a return to proper administration and management of the school so that administrators and teachers are empowered to do their jobs as professionals and manage the school environment and classrooms as they were trained to do.

“I consider Mr. Fitzgerald to be a thoughtful and reflective individual, and I am hopeful that he will bring more of these characteristics to the management of the nation’s school system during his tenure as minister. In short order, I also hope that he will end the misguided, fruitless political charade that has been played havoc on our educational system for decades,” Mr. Humes said.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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