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Baron: America’s Cup will not distract us

Security chiefs will not take their eyes off the ball when it comes to gang violence and serious crime once the America's Cup swings into action.

Senator Jeff Baron told The Royal Gazette that the bolstered police presence in St George's would continue throughout the sailing event, while the installation of CCTV cameras in the East End would begin within days.

The Minister of National Security was speaking as the first phase of Operation Ceasefire was completed last week with 17 local stakeholders, including representatives from the clergy, charities, police and corrections as well as Mr Baron, travelling to New York for an introductory presentation.

Mr Baron described the event as extremely positive and productive and said Ceasefire experts from the United States would visit the island in the coming weeks to conduct a problem analysis.

“We have a high probability of success in Bermuda; we can make some big changes and reduce serious violence and improve public safety,” he said.

“A very small percentage is responsible for these serious crimes; the community itself is quite healthy.

“I have absolute confidence that Ceasefire will make an impact and moreover it will operate within existing resources.”

Asked if he was concerned that gang or gun violence could cast a shadow over the America's Cup Mr Baron replied: “I'm concerned every day that gang violence will rear its head; it's a matter of life and death and I take it extremely serious. Our eyes will not be taken off the ball when it comes to gang violence or serious crime during the America's Cup.

“There is no rest for the agencies dealing with these issues; Team StreetSafe is not going to take a time out during the America's Cup.

“Police support and emergency response teams will be dedicated to our most pressing challenges.”

Mr Baron revealed that St George's would be given priority over Dockyard when it came to installing new CCTV cameras, and that the local response to extra officers on the beat in the East End had been very positive.

He said: “The response we have received from the community about the extra officers on the beat has been very positive and that will continue over the America's Cup and beyond.

“We don't just collapse operations to cater for the America's Cup.”

Mr Baron said he had complete faith in the security operation prepared for the America's Cup, which had also opened up new opportunities for the Royal Bermuda Regiment.

“We always knew security would be a tremendous challenge during the America's Cup, but I have no doubt we will rise to the occasion,” he added.

“A huge amount of work has taken place behind the scenes. Our priority is for a safe and secure event.

“The event has allowed the role of the Regiment to be expanded too; 100 soldiers will be involved in screening people and vehicles; I have seen the rehearsals — it's like a fully functioning airport; extremely professional.

“It's a visible example of how the Regiment has been able to take up new opportunities and the soldiers are excited to be taking part in a really high-profile event.”

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Published May 23, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated May 23, 2017 at 1:52 am)

Baron: America’s Cup will not distract us

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