Police foot patrols are welcomed in Dockyard
West End business owners have applauded Dockyard’s policing upgrade, which has seen a police foot patrol added for the five-month cruise ship season.
“It’s going to have a huge impact. It’s something we’ve been looking forward to for years,” said Livio Ferigo, owner of the Bone Fish Bar and Grill, and Cafe Amici in Dockyard’s Clocktower Mall. “I’m a big business operator in Dockyard, and I can tell you this will make a real difference for us.”
Minister of National Security Wayne Perinchief recently confirmed that police have dedicated a full-time team of officers to the area thousands of tourists and cruise ship staff pour into Dockyard several nights a week.
While his five years of business there have been incident-free, Mr Ferigo said: “We will feel much more comfortable working up here with a police presence.
“It gives people more of a feeling of confidence to see police. If there is a cruise ship, you can have a lot of people, 10,000 to 14,000 people. Even for the tourists, it makes them feel better, and as a tourist destination it’s very important.”
Business owners are forging relationships with the officers, Mr Ferigo said, adding: “I have been told we will be able to get their phone numbers so that we can call them directly if we need them. We can call and have them here in two minutes.”
He said his staff will also feel safer leaving the premises late at night.
“You can go home happy knowing people are watching,” he said. “If there is someone there with a uniform, I’m not saying it keeps everyone in line, but now before someone does something, they’re going to think twice.”
Mr Ferigo added that he had noticed the extra police at last Thursday’s Heritage Nights. “I’d say there were three officers walking around, asking people if everything was OK,” he said.
Bermuda Craft Market manager Audrey Brackstone said that even for businesses that don’t stay open late, extra security would be welcome.
“It’s nice for everybody to see police around, that’s for sure,” she said.
For Kenny Dallas, of Fantasea Diving and Watersports, having extra police even enhances cultural tourism.
“They should have the Bobby type hats,” he said, referring to the traditional custodian helmets worn by British police. “Tourists like to see that British thing.”
With Fantasea operating evening cruises that run until 10pm, Mr Dallas said, “It’s comforting to people. In this day and age, it’s good to have a few uniforms walking around.”
Wendy Avery, co-owner of the Dockyard Company, the Bermuda Rum Cake Company and the Dockyard Glassworks, said Dockyard was a safe environment, but “the problem is that because we have such a concentration of tourists, you can have more deadbeats and people hanging around”.
Ms Avery said she had been “thrilled” to see the walking patrols, adding: “I would like to see the bicycle patrols back, and a neighbourhood watch.”
Although the policing initiative was spurred by a June 7 clash between cruise ship staff and some local men at Dockyard’s Snorkel Park, Ms Avery said there seemed to be less friction this year than in previous years.
“Some of the cruise ship workers have a language barrier, and of course there’s drinking, which can attract trouble,” she said. “I think some of the ships have curfews now, and have forbidden their staff from wearing their badges while they’re on shore.”
Her business stays open until 9pm when cruise ships are in port.
“We’re one of the places that people come to when they’ve lost something or need help,” she said. “So it’s very necessary to have police here. I have a lot of cameras and security because my business goes through $8,000 worth of rum every week. You can have all the cameras in the world, but it’s not the same as having a physical presence.”
Ms Avery added: “It’s always been very safe here at night and I’ve always felt safe, but business security has changed over the years.”
United Bermuda Party MPs Kim and Charlie Swan also commended the Dockyard patrols, pointing out that the crew members of cruise ships were “repeat visitors too”.
The ship staff spend “much-needed foreign currency”, they said, and serve as ambassadors for Bermuda en route to the Island.
St George’s West MP Kim Swan said: “This BPS deployment is consistent with the United Bermuda Party’s repeated call for many years, for year-round police presence in the town of St George’s, and for an increased presence during cruise ship season when we enjoyed dedicated cruise ships. It is pleasing that the wisdom of those pleas have been put into good use in Dockyard.
“For five months during the cruise season, Bermuda is the home-base for several thousand crew on board Bermuda bound cruise ships. For one to three days per week, Dockyard is where the crew can get off of the ship and get some much needed personal time away from their work.
“Additionally, it is common for the crew of cruise-liners to have limited downtime at night and it is important for them to be able to maximise their free time on Island if desired. In this regard, it is important that we view cruise crew as visitors also; the added protection provided by the Bermuda Police Service is important to ensure safety when greater numbers of people are on Island and in a particular community.“
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