Log In

Reset Password

Operation Ceasefire launches next month

Bermuda's own Operation Ceasefire will be officially launched next month — though many of the anti-gang initiative's “building blocks” are already in place, according to Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley.

He told

The Royal Gazette, in an exclusive interview, that much work had already been done to crack down on gun crime and that his Government was happy to continue strategies put in place by the last administration.

Asked when Bermuda would get an Operation Ceasefire programme, as he long called for in Opposition, Mr Dunkley said: “They have it now.

“It will fire on more cylinders as we move forward but there are a number of cylinders that are firing fairly effective[ly] now and we are seeing the impact in the community.

“I think while there is still so much work to be done, I do think we are making some significant progress, but we can't take our foot off the gas.”

Many of the police enforcement elements of the programme are already proving effective, he insisted, as is a local version of the StreetSafe gang mediation scheme.

The latter, which had been in the pipeline since 2011, began properly in January after the double gun murder of two men on Happy Valley Road.

“We pulled together the foundation for that group at that time and they were out in the community doing some work,” said the Deputy Premier. “Now we've really solidified the organisation.”

Boston-based StreetSafe is a separate initiative to Operation Ceasefire but the two programmes will run in tandem on the Island, as part of an overall strategy for reducing gang crime.

Training for StreetSafe volunteers was completed by June 2012, but the initiative did not get off the ground prior to the general election in December.

Mr Dunkley said someone had now been appointed to run Team StreetSafe Bermuda, though he would not name him yet.

The individual, he said, “will pull his team together using people he knows are capable of doing it and reaching out to some of the people who have been trained to some extent when they went to Boston in the past. The hiring will be totally up to the individual running it”.

The Minister added: “There will be no work permits for mediation workers, I can tell you that. If there is training that is needed for the mediation workers out there, we will continue to use the programme in Boston.”

An established charity, the name of which is still under wraps, will help to administer the scheme and funding will come from the public purse and private sector donations.

Operation Ceasefire, which combines enforcement, prevention and community engagement, will be funded from various Ministries and departments, with no estimate of the annual cost currently available.

Mr Dunkley said: “That would be a good exercise. I can't [provide it] at this time but I am happy to try and work on it.

“It's hard to break those numbers out too. How do you attribute costs in the police to that type of programme? How do you attribute costs in the prisons to that type of programme?

“Those types of programmes are typical programmes that any government will come up with, work them as long as they are successful and then rephase them into something different or phase them out.”

David Kennedy, the professor who conceived Operation Ceasefire, which has successfully tackled gang crime in Boston and other US cities, will give a talk on the Island today at an annual conference for police chiefs.

Mr Dunkley, who will also speak at the Association of Caribbean Police Commissioners event at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess, said Professor Kennedy would spend time at the Ministry of Public Safety, reviewing the anti-gang policies in place.

“He will spend some time with community partners as well and he will be out in the community looking at some of the challenges we have. It is going to be a real working trip.

“I think the visit from Professor Kennedy comes at a really opportune time.

“He will get an opportunity to have a good inside look at the programme, as we've put it together, and I'm assuming we'll be able to have an opportunity to listen to what he has to say about some of its strengths and some areas where he would suggest where we bring up a different programme or go with a different approach.”

The Minister said it was clear his predecessor, National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief, “understood how successful a Bermuda-crafted Operation Ceasefire approach could be and he started the wheels in motion to make it happen”.

He added: “I was well aware that there were a number of procedures that were put in place that would be the building blocks for an Operation Ceasefire type programme.

“[Those building blocks] were put in place, are still in place. We are developing them and adding to them.

“Minister Perinchief shared a pretty similar vision to me and actually started up the foundation of a lot of work that I supported. There was a lot of work to be done.”

Referring to the escalating gun violence which has seen 18 men killed since May 2009, he said: “The real challenge that we had was that we were in such a desperate situation that time wasn't on our side, so we had to make the right steps quickly.

“I think in the [first] three or four months of this year, we have made some tremendous progress.”

The Inter-Agency Gang Task Force set up by the Progressive Labour Party Government and comprised of police, government and public sector representatives, continues under the new administration.

Mr Dunkley said: “There are reasons why you are not going to hear much about when they meet because a lot of this stuff has to be done behind closed doors and they have to get out and deal with challenges.”

He said the police had been “very effective” in recent months at “getting a grip on guns, gangs, drugs and the violence in our community”.

The challenge now, he added, was to supplement that with prevention work, such as anti-gang initiatives in schools, and active engagement with gang members, to get them on the right track.

“I think we have put some good meat on the bone there and we continue to develop and roll out programmes all the time.

“As the Commissioner of Police has said, over and over again, and I think it bears repeating, we can't just arrest our way out of this problem.”


Minister of Public Safety Michael Dunkley

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published April 29, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 29, 2013 at 9:37 am)

Operation Ceasefire launches next month

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon