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Police vow to be ‘relentless’ in pursuit of gang members

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Police have vowed to weaken gangs by targeting the Island’s most prolific offenders and to deploy “relentless investigations” against those who commit serious crimes.

And the Island’s CCTV network will be expanded, and the cameras equipped with the ability to track car licence plates, according to the Bermuda Police Service’s latest annual plan.

Commissioner Michael DeSilva revealed at a press conference yesterday that Cabinet is now reviewing the contract awarded for enhancing CCTV coverage.

“What we asked in the RFP was basically for as many cameras as we could afford in the budget, and to spread that out across the Island, not just in Hamilton where we started, and also to start looking at the enhanced technology that’s available,” Mr DeSilva said.

“The two big ones are automatic number plate recognition, and also facial recognition. Facial recognition is a little bit advanced but certainly the ANPR is pretty standard.”

He added that the BPS may not be able to afford facial recognition technology currently, “but the whole point is if you say, in an RFP, what your future aspiration is, then the platform you start out with might not have it today, but, maybe, we could afford it in the future.”

Cameras are currently set up throughout the City of Hamilton, Barnes Corner, and in a few areas of Somerset.

“The idea is to expand that so that all major arteries and junctions — as much as possible — are covered,” the Commissioner said.

The five-point plan delivered police objectives under the acronym TEMPO: tackling crime; enhancing public confidence; modernising the service; policing with the community, and optimising performance.

It announced an intent to single out “priority and prolific offenders” in tackling violent crime, and said police would take greater advantage of their powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act, to seize criminally-obtained cash, and assets.

The expansion of the police CCTV network will continue, and police will “enhance current technology to include the use of automatic number plate recognition”.

Foot patrols, and greater visibility of police, are a priority, along with road safety, according to the plan.

Meanwhile, police are “nearing completion” of a computerised records management system, and computer-aided dispatch, it said.

“By bringing these highly anticipated systems online, we intend to provide a prompt and effective response to calls for service,” the plan continued.

And the Police will be stepping up the fight against corruption within its ranks by expanding pre-employment screening, and enhanced vetting of officers involved in sensitive areas, such as firearms, drugs, intelligence, and vulnerable persons.

But the Commissioner said he did not think police corruption was a major issue in Bermuda.

“I’m convinced that we don’t have anything like the problem that some people in our society would have us believe. It would be almost impossible to keep it under wraps so tightly for so long,” he said.

“For me, it’s about setting the example, and modelling the behaviour so it can be a model for other agencies and international partners.” The international law enforcement community is increasingly moving toward vetted units when dealing with sensitive information, he explained.

“If you’re a police agency in the States for example, before you reach out to an island in the Caribbean, you want to make sure that the officers you are dealing with are vetted the same way you are, and the information will be just as secure in the other jurisdiction. So really, this is less about weeding out corruption — it’s more about doing the right thing, and I think its overdue.”

BPS’ $71 million budget for 2013/14 is to be divided as follows: $42.1 million in wages for 450 police officers; $4 million to cover overtime; $5.86 million to pay for 96 support staff, and $415,000 for 100 police reserves.

The plan is part of a three-year strategic plan set to conclude in 2015.

Useful website: www.bermudapolice.bm.

Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva (Photo by Glenn Tucker)

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Published May 15, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 14, 2013 at 11:45 pm)

Police vow to be ‘relentless’ in pursuit of gang members

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