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Mayor calls for action on violence

Hamilton's mayor has called for a stronger police presence or a ranger service after a string of violent incidents in the heart of the city.

Charles Gosling was speaking yesterday as two men appeared in Magistrates' Court charged in connection with fights on Front Street captured on camera.

He said that both incidents — as well as others, including a firearms incident in which a bullet was fired into Docksider bar — were of “great concern”.

He added that officers on the beat created a “visible presence” which would deter crime.

Mr Gosling said the creation of a city rangers service, similar to park rangers who have “limited powers of arrest” would also help prevent future incidents and take pressure off the police.

He said: “This would free up the police to pursue or be proactive with the more serious incidents.

“If this was tied in with a broad range of social programmes, it would go a long way to reducing the homeless and violence problems.”

He added: “Our intent would be to use ex-police, but at some time you would have to admit someone who may not have had police training, but would receive something along similar grounds to what the parks department gives to its rangers.

“Our proposal was drawn up by an ex-superintendent some years ago and did receive the nod of approval from two previous commissioners.

“The only concern voiced was that of limiting the power of arrest. This would require an Act of Parliament.

“None of the ministers overseeing the municipalities have taken this up, but none have voiced any objections to the idea either.”

Treadwell Smith, from Devonshire, pleaded guilty yesterday to assault causing bodily harm.

The 31-year-old landed a barrage of punches on a man before he kicked him in the head as he lay on the sidewalk.

The court heard that the victim was choked, thrown over a bench and punched several times before he was kicked.

Smith told the court that the violence was sparked by sexual comments made to him by the victim.

The incident happened in broad daylight on Thursday near Number 1 car park on Front Street.

Magistrate Tyrone Chin deferred sentence until June 29 for reports.

Smith was released on $1,500 bail and ordered to have no contact with his victim.

In a separate incident, police pepper-sprayed a 31-year-old American visitor after a fight on Front Street.

Bryan Wood was in Bermuda for a family wedding and became got involved in a fight in the Dog House bar, which spilt out on to the street.

The brawl broke out after Wood took offence at comments made to his girlfriend at the bar.

Police were forced to use pepper spray to subdue Wood, from Fort Lee, New Jersey, and it took several officers to control and arrest him.

The fight happened just after midnight on Saturday.

Wood was fined $500 for fighting and $750 for resisting arrest.

Mr Gosling said that, although he had no access to police reports, he believed that there had been an increase in violent incidents in the city.

He added that a number of factors, including a “lack of consequences” for offenders, helped fuel the problem.

The Bermuda Police Service said that officers met officials from the City of Hamilton to discuss safety issues on a regular basis.

A spokesman added that the last meeting with city representatives was last Wednesday and touched on “key concerns”.

Mr Gosling said that additional meetings were also held to discuss “particular incidents” when needed.

Huge concern: Charles Gosling has called for stronger police presence (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)

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Published May 22, 2018 at 9:00 am (Updated May 22, 2018 at 7:03 am)

Mayor calls for action on violence

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