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Ending gang violence will be a priority under the OBA, national security spokesman tells media

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Gang violence will be treated as a national emergency by a One Bermuda Alliance Government, the media was told yesterday.

Jeff Baron, OBA spokesperson for National Security, claimed that Government had failed to live up to its promises to tackle gang violence.

“The Government more than three years after gang warfare broke out on the streets of Bermuda is telling Bermudians that only now are they ‘on the cusp’ of implementing a strategy to deal with the situation,” Mr Baron said, referring to a statement at a Progressive Labour Party press conference last week.

“It’s not good enough. There continues to be a major disconnect between what is happening on the streets and what is happening in the halls of Government.

“There has been no urgency on what is, without question, an urgent situation.”

Gang warfare threatened Bermuda’s way of life, could “topple our economy” and “retard the development of young Bermudians”, Mr Baron added.

Operation Ceasefire’s introduction to Bermuda must be the first step to “stop the shootings and killings”, he continued.

“This is a police-community initiative that has worked in some of the most violent cities in the United States.”

In Cincinnati, homicides fell by 24 percent when it was introduced there in 2007 and by 50 percent the following year, he offered.

“In 1990s Boston, Operation Ceasefire was associated with a near two-thirds drop in youth homicide.”

Mr Baron said: “Police have identified gangs, gang members and their turf, and this is essential information for the programme.

“In addition, Bermuda has a fantastic community of social workers, active clergy and community activists who can be enlisted for the ‘helping hand’ side of the operation.”

He described the current approach as “fragmented” with “no overall leadership; no guidance to co-ordinating work on the social problems that give rise to gangs and crime”.

Said Mr Baron: “Under the umbrella of Operation Ceasefire, those groups can begin working together, all pulling in the same direction to diffuse violence and pull gang members out of a life that holds no real hope for the future.

“The police-community dynamic that Operation Ceasefire develops would be new to Bermuda, but it makes sense.”

The governing party has also pledged to introduce Operation Ceasefire to the Island.

Last year, National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief said it would be up and running by April or May this year.

One Bermuda Alliance candidate Jeff Baron held a press conference yesterday afternoon on crime.

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Published December 04, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated December 04, 2012 at 12:39 am)

Ending gang violence will be a priority under the OBA, national security spokesman tells media

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