Police: Court Street presence increase
The Bermuda Police Service are committing to having more police on the beat in the Court Street area following a productive community outreach initiative yesterday.
The Community Action Team conducted an outreach clinic in the area and the overwhelming message from residents and business owners was that they wanted more engagement with officers on a regular basis.
The initiative aims to help build bridges between the police and the community so that they can work together to identify issues and come up with solutions.
PC Arthur Dill was accompanied by three officers yesterday who engaged with the public as well as sharing information on crime prevention and how to set up a Neighbourhood Watch group. PC Krishna Singh told The Royal Gazette: “What we have been sharing with the people is how to keep your home safe, how to form a Neighbourhood Watch and we are also asking them about any particular issues in the area and how we can assist them. The police and community need to come together and combat any ills in the community.
“We have talked about having more police foot-patrolling on Court Street — not just driving through but walking through and speaking with owners and residents and engaging with them.
“Driving through does a little bit but not a lot. When you are on the beat — for us and the community — it makes a big difference. We have started already today and this is going to be ongoing. We have done it in the past but we are going to do it more frequently in my department — the CAT department.”
Armed response officers are also involved.
Mr Singh said some concerns raised on the day included the issues of drugs, speeding and littering.
“People have raised concerns about littering and drugs being sold openly along Court Street.
“We talked about having a Business Watch where we have all the shop owners come together — similar to Neighbourhood Watch — and share their problems and issues. We put our heads together in terms of coming up with solutions. It could be something as simple as speeding — a few people mentioned that today, where we could request more police radars or speed bumps.
“Some people have said they feel unsafe at times. Some of them don’t want to come out in the open and share information because they are afraid of the backlash. We try to encourage the community to share information — we are not here 24/7 — they are. They can stay anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers on 800-8477. ”
Mr Dill said he believed increasing the police presence and building strong relationships in the community would go a long way to tackling the issues raised.
“Just even today, when we first got here, there were about 15 or 20 guys over there and as soon as we came they disappeared,” he said.
“When we get here we displace them. If there is any criminal activity they are going to have to move it somewhere else and then that is where we are going to go too.
“If we had more officers out then we could do this all the time.
“There was an incident the other day that came about as a result of us getting information from off the street — we seized a firearm.
“That is how it works. When we do community policing we start building up relationships with the public and that is when we start getting real information. Sometimes, someone will say they don’t want to be involved but that a certain person has a gun. It is beneficial for us.
“This is a good example here — someone gave us a call in response to someone coming through the neighbourhood that didn’t stay there and there was a sexual assault in the area at that time.
“When we went and followed up on it, a man was arrested for sexual assault as a result of the information that we had from the community.”
Mr Singh added: “That only comes with the police building bridges as we are doing today. It is not us and them — we are in this together and that is how I think we can really make a dent in crime.”
A local businessman was engaging with the officers when The Royal Gazette attended the clinic. He told us: “It has been getting better over the past two years — there was a lot of break-ins and it has gone down. The main thing we have now is people stealing bikes. I would like to see more of a police presence.”
Sergeant Shakisha Minors added: “It’s not just driving through — it’s officers going into the different businesses — how it used to be — and speaking to them and saying how is everything and building a rapport.
“There are a lot of communities asking for the same thing — the Community Action Team is only so big but we try to do it as much as we can other than when we are being pulled to other areas in the force.”
Asked whether the police will be monitoring progress as they step up their presence in the area, Sgt Minors said: “We are trying to look at statistics — what we try to rely on is the omnibus survey and the rating of how the community looks at us as a service. Do they have trust and confidence in us? That is what we try to build our objectives on when we do our patrols. We are trying to find out what their concerns are instead of imposing our own.”
• Anyone wishing to speak with PC Dill or who is interested in setting up a Neighbourhood Watch group can call 247-1119 or e-mail email@example.com for central parishes, firstname.lastname@example.org for eastern and email@example.com for western. Anyone with any information about crime in their area may also remain anonymous by calling CrimeStoppers on 800-8477 or visiting www.crimestoppers.bm
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