Police to get Islandwide CCTV network
Bermuda's crime-fighting network of surveillance cameras targeting public areas is due to be quadrupled soon, top police brass told a town-hall meeting last night.
And police assured members of the community worried about the efficacy of CCTV that the cameras were well maintained — and that “bad guys” weren't aware when technical problems affected the system.
Concerns over whether the devices are working effectively have been widespread in the wake of the September 2 gun murder of Jonathan Dill in the St Monica's Road, Pembroke area — where the technology is prominently in place.
“We have cameras that work, and that cover a vast majority of the Island,” Deputy Commissioner Mike Jackman told concerned residents at nearby Victor Scott Primary School.
“We keep getting questions asked about CCTV all the time. But if we tell the bad guys when the cameras are not working, we'd get completely criticised.”
Mr Jackman said breakdowns of cameras were dealt swiftly through “a robust system of inspection”.
He added: “We are expanding by almost fourfold the number of cameras that we currently have.
“We will be signing a contract with a vendor to expand all the way East and into Dockyard.”
Mr Jackman told The Royal Gazette that technological strides had also made the systems “better and cheaper”.
And an announcement by Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley on the enhanced CCTV could be expected soon, he added.
“We can expect to have it completed in about six months, after we have the contract signed,” Mr Jackman said.
The force put out a request for proposal (RFP) earlier this year, seeking as many cameras as the police service could afford.
Even with the best technology, “cameras don't always work”, Mr Jackman said.
He added: “But we don't advertise that.”
Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva assured area residents that the CCTV devices could capture images just as effectively in the night as in day time — and that the network “improves every year”, with licence plate recognition enabling a central computer to track the vehicles of suspects.
The gathering also heard a continued emphasis on “front end tactics” to solve gang-fuelled violence in the Island.
Police are currently making about 150 school visits a year — and there are plans afoot to reinstate the Gang Resistance Education Programme, according to Assistant Commissioner Paul Wright.
Last night's audience suffered from a disappointing turnout, with roughly 50 residents appearing.
Diane Gordon of the Bermuda Red Cross suggested some felt too intimidated to show up. Mr DeSilva said a more likely cause for the low numbers were PTA meetings, along with the final public gathering of the SAGE Commission in Hamilton.
A town-hall meeting between Pembroke residents and police heard stark figures on the number of murders and casualties since the 2009 “watershed moment” that gun violence broke out in the Island.
Although total crime is at its lowest since 2000, there have been 24 lives lost to firearms since 2009, Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva told last night’s gathering
Gun fatalities for this year so far stand at three, with a total of five homicides.
The four-year spree has seen a further 65 injured in shootings — “essentially, attempted murder”, Mr DeSilva added.
“Every one represents a person, and countless family members. This isn’t a statistic — this is community impact.”
Each of the 89 incidents represents an investigation by the police service — “an unprecedented number in our history”, he said.