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Baron: Gang expert drew emotional responses

Professor David Kennedy’s visit to Bermuda prompted an “emotional response” from the people trying to tackle gun crime here, Senator Jeff Baron said yesterday.

The Junior Public Safety Minister, who was instrumental in bringing the Operation Ceasefire creator to the Island, told

The Royal Gazette that Prof Kennedy impressed those who heard his keynote speech at a police chiefs’ conference on Monday.

“From the Commissioner [of Police], to the sergeant who deals with this every day ... we have buy-in,” he said, adding that one sergeant was “almost speechless” after the presentation.

“He lives this and he felt like David was telling his story while he was at the podium. David will hear that from all the cops. He’ll hear that from all the social activists.

“I have met him, I have spoken with him. On Monday, I got to turn around and look at the audience while he was giving his presentation.

“I got to look at police officers, political colleagues in the Opposition and in my party in Government, social activists. We all had similar conversations afterwards. They were emotional. They were ‘Jeff, we want to work with you and get this right’.

“Now is the time to put down political swords and come together to make it happen.”

The senator, a former police officer and a member of Bermuda’s Inter-Agency Gang Task Force, said he was “deeply impressed” with Prof Kennedy when he met with him on a recent trip to New York and was convinced his strategy of engaging directly with gang members could quell gun violence here.

“It’s enticing because of its simplicity. Frankly, the point of Operation Ceasefire is to create a healthier community. This isn’t a heavy-handed or softer approach. This approach is to raise healthier communities, to raise our social capital.”

He said the professor’s trip to the Island “really solidified” his sense that Ceasefire was right for Bermuda.

“I got to stand shoulder to shoulder with him and tell my colleagues here in Bermuda where I live, particularly in the area where I ran as a[n election] candidate, that this is something we can manage.

“That was a pretty powerful thing for me, professionally, politically and personally.”

Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley said earlier this week that the building blocks for Bermuda’s own Ceasefire were already in place, with an official “launch” next month.

Sen Baron said of Prof Kennedy: “To be honest, I want him back here. I want him to continue to say ‘Jeff, you are on the right track’.”

Sen Jeff Baron

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Published May 02, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 01, 2013 at 10:17 pm)

Baron: Gang expert drew emotional responses

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