Premier calls for more community beat officers, armed units

The Premier has called for more community beat officers in the wake of three drive-by shootings at the weekend.

As a result of yesterday's meeting with Governor Sir Richard Gozney, Government House also said the number of Police Armed Response vehicles would double.

However, it was unclear what had happened to a plea at the weekend by the Premier for specialist overseas officers to assist in a crackdown on guns and gang-related violence.

  • <B>Premier Dr. Ewart Brown </B>enters the Government House grounds at Langton Hill yesterday for a meeting with Governor Sir Richard Gozney and senior Cabinet officials in the wake of violence this weekend which saw one man shot dead and four others injured.

    Premier Dr. Ewart Brown enters the Government House grounds at Langton Hill yesterday for a meeting with Governor Sir Richard Gozney and senior Cabinet officials in the wake of violence this weekend which saw one man shot dead and four others injured.


The Premier has called for more community beat officers in the wake of three drive-by shootings at the weekend.

As a result of yesterday's meeting with Governor Sir Richard Gozney, Government House also said the number of Police Armed Response vehicles would double.

However, it was unclear what had happened to a plea at the weekend by the Premier for specialist overseas officers to assist in a crackdown on guns and gang-related violence.

Dr. Ewart Brown, Deputy Premier Paula Cox and Public Safety Minister David Burch met with Governor Sir Richard Gozney and Deputy Governor Mark Capes yesterday at Government House to discuss policing following the violence of the weekend.

Police Commissioner George Jackson and Deputy Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva were also present.

Police have so far arrested three men in connection with the first drive-by shooting, in St. Monica's Road at 2.45 p.m. on Friday. The names of the men have not yet been released but detectives say the weekend's incidents were all gang-related, with rivalry between the '42 Crew' and 'Middletown' thought to be the prime motive.

The "ongoing feud" resulted in the murder of one man and gunshot wounds to four others, some of whom were innocent bystanders.

On Friday, 27-year-old Kenwandee Robinson was shot dead in St. Monica's Road, Pembroke. Another man, 24-year-old Michael Adams, was seriously injured. Just minutes after the shootings at 2.45 p.m., more gunfire was reported in Rambling Lane and Curving Avenue, Pembroke.

Then on Saturday morning, shortly after 9 a.m., three men were injured in a drive-by shooting in Court Street, Hamilton. Shopkeeper Raymond Burgess and his son Raymond Burgess Jr. were among those injured.

Denouncing the violence, the Premier said on Saturday: "This is yet another incident where we must add to the skills of the Bermuda Police Service by bringing in some outside assistance to stop this rot in Bermuda. That is the message I will be conveying to the Governor."

Yesterday however, there was no mention of deploying any specialist overseas officers.

A statement by Government House, on behalf of the Governor, described the meeting as "valuable", but said: "The Bermuda Police Service is in a stronger position than 12 or 18 months ago, with more Police officers, higher pay and stronger recruitment.

"The Governor and the Police Service are acutely aware of the public expectation of the role which the Police play as part of the overall effort to curb the sort of ghastly violence seen at the weekend.

"They know that the Bermudians of the most affected areas are looking for reassurance on the ground. As a result some steps have been taken; for example the number of Armed Response vehicles, which patrol with armed Police officers, has been doubled.

"Other steps are in hand and will be announced or become apparent soon, and other work will continue behind the scenes."

The Premier said yesterday: "We have completed a lengthy meeting with His Excellency the Governor at which the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner were also present. I was joined by the Deputy Premier and the Minister responsible for Home Affairs.

"On behalf of the Government and people of Bermuda I advocated, in the strongest possible terms, that the Governor and the Bermuda Police Service act as follows in response to recent events:

– deploy foot patrols (officers walking the beat) in recognised trouble spots and/or neighbourhoods;

– deploy the Mobile Command Centre in trouble spots as a base from which to mount and conduct operations, and to restore public confidence in affected areas;

– a paradigm shift in deployment theory that emphasises sustained, regular policing (as set out above) in Bermuda's neighbourhoods and at recognised trouble spots."

Dr. Brown said: "It is our hope as a Government that these actions particularly in the St. Monica's Road, Parsons Road and Court Street areas, will be implemented swiftly, and the regular policing of Bermuda's neighbourhoods will be sustained operationally.

"With 468 Police men and women, higher pay and increased recruitment, I am confident that our country can be properly protected and the people of Bermuda made to feel safe."

It was unclear from the statement whether the Premier had made the plea for specialist overseas anti-gang assistance.

But his Press Secretary Glenn Jones told The Royal Gazette: "Today the Premier made the same kind of request for overseas assistance he made in 2006 and many times since then."

Governor Sir Richard told this newspaper: "I have seen the Premier's statement and do not argue with the points he makes. I shall not say more publicly, at least for now, about this morning's meeting.

"Since the meeting with the Premier, other Ministers and the Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner of Police, I have had further discussions with the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner. They are setting in hand some extra measures which will be visible and also be the subject of a press conference which they plan to hold in the next day or two."

Yesterday the Opposition also called for "a special anti-gang taskforce" to coordinate policing.

The United Bermuda Party said it also backed Home Affairs Minister David Burch's calls for a 'community summit' to discuss the growth of youth violence.

The Opposition also wants to see a formal review of the Bermuda Police Service the last one was in 2003, plus legislation to penalise gang membership.

UBP Leader Kim Swan said: "Gang war has come to Bermuda. These events are shocking, but they are not surprising. Gangs and gang culture have been growing in our midst for years. We need to confront the challenge of gangs, and we need to do it now."

Mr. Swan said the gang problem was "a national emergency" and called for a special session of Parliament to discuss it.

"Gangs and gang violence are a threat to our way of life. They threaten our children, the safety of our neighbourhoods and they threaten the economy," he said.

"This is a Bermuda problem, whether you live in St. Monica's Mission, or St. George's or Hamilton Parish."

Shadow Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley said: "There is a public responsibility for all of us to get involved and there is a Government responsibility to harness that involvement.

"Many people believe the problems are not close to them or in their backyard, but that thinking has to change.

"We have a rot, we have a cancer and when you have a cancer you deal with it.

"We all need to play a part to stop this rot, because it will continue and it will be our brothers and sisters."

Shadow Labour and Immigration Minister Shawn Crockwell called for the drafting of anti-gang legislation.

He said: "We need to make being members of a gang an offence and increase the penalties, to have minimum penalties for gang-related activities."

Commenting on the creation of an anti-gang taskforce, he said: "We have to bring in specialist individuals to tackle this problem and we must do it now. It is time to get tough on gang-related activities.

"Members of the community are afraid. There is a fear factor out there which is real. When you have someone go into a shop in Court Street and open fire, people are afraid. This is local terrorism.

"This is when the Government, Opposition and law enforcement must come together to reclaim Bermuda."

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