Let’s be fearless, Bermuda
On February 4, the Minister of National Security delivered a statement to Parliament, giving an update on gang violence.
Recently, and very sadly, our island home has been rocked by violence. Last Wednesday, a good Samaritan succumbed to injuries sustained as he was breaking up a fight and two days later a teenager, yes a teenager, was stabbed while on his way to school!
The One Bermuda Alliance extends its condolences and best wishes respectively.
As a former Minister of National Security, I am well aware of the challenges faced and the need to never believe whatever progress is made is good enough.
Generally, while present government policy differs little from the approach of the OBA, the key to success is having measurable outcomes.
For example, the minister mentioned in her statement a Gang Violence Reduction Strategy and programmes.
While mentioning those programmes, such as Work Placement and Mentoring and School Programmes and Services, the minister failed to put any context on success by not stating the numbers involved and any tracking upon completion. Programmes are laudable but success is always measured.
Second, the minister stated, “the notion that we can arrest our way out of gang violence is out of date and a misguided mindset of a bygone era”.
However, the Bermuda Police Service have a critical role to play in not only enforcement but also a robust community outreach.
I asked the minister during the question period if she believed the reduced manpower levels and reduced budget of the BPS under the Progressive Labour Party were affecting their ability to tackle the issue of enforcement and community involvement.
She replied: “No, I do not.”
Sorry, minister, I disagree.
How can the BPS be expected to tackle gang violence, road rage and all other areas when the PLP has shown a lack of support!
Finally, the minister stated that “the gang culture is a cancer which needs to be arrested and eliminated”.
Yes, minister, I am with you totally!
Just reflect on the recent acts of violence, in addition to the multiple shootings in a bar and a senseless killing of a Bermuda footballer, to name just two other shocking incidents.
Sadly, the pain, grief and sorrow of family never abates, but the community moves on and forgets until the next horrific incident occurs.
This is not good enough!
We all must care every day!
No blind eye.
No blind eye to activity by friends or family.
No blind eye to neighbourhood issues.
In every incident, people have important information. For people to remain silent allows the perpetrators to get away and for violence to potentially grow.
I ask all of us to park our fear, gather some courage, and say what we know, express what we see and help stop the rot!
Police corporate communications manager Gary Moreno posted the following on social media last week after a conversation with a former gang member: “The more that people refuse to say what they know, the faster the gang boys dictate how we live in our country.”
Reflect on that, Bermuda.
If we are unable to gather courage and put fear aside, the violence will continue.
Whose doorstep is next?
• Michael Dunkley is the Shadow Minister for National Security and Health, and the MP for Smith’s North (Constituency 10)