OBA to step up the fight against crime
The One bermuda Alliance (OBA) has put fighting crime front and centre of its first legislative agenda, and not even MPs will be immune to their determination to clean up Bermuda.
Promising to “deploy every available resource in the fight to get guns off the streets” the new Government said more police officers, a cash-for-guns programme and a strenthening of the Island's borders would form the main tenents of their policy.
MPs meanwhile could find themselves subjected to “random, mandatory drug testing”, something that didn't go down especially well with Opposition Leader Marc Bean who questioned what else should be tested for “when we're talking about testing anything on the basis of morality”.
In fact, Mr Bean had little complimentary to say about the OBA's first Throne Speech when it came to crime and gun violence, insisting their policies were “merely a continuation of Progressive Labour Party policies and programmes.
Outlining the new legislative agenda for the Parliamentary year, Governor George Fergusson said: “Cooperation is going to be of paramount importance in the fight against violent crime.”
To that end, he said 20 more officers will be added to the ranks of the Bermuda Police Service “to fight against guns, gangs, drugs and violence”. A strong recruitment drive will also be launched to boost the ranks of the Bermuda Reserves, and a cash incentive gun bounty programme will also be set up in partnership with CrimeStoppers, “to capitalise on the growing role played by citizens in bringing offenders to justice”.
A paper outlining the details on the new policy will be released shortly, and an invitation has been extended to Opposition members to participate.
Mr Bean described the OBA's measures as “75 percent PLP policy” and was equally dismissive of the gun bounty programme.
“The underlying causes of gun violence and crime are much deeper than having to use cash as an incentive to get guns off the streets,” he said.
“It's another very weak policy which shows the lack of thought and preparedness on a very serious issue that is affecting the entire community. But the impact of gun murders is primarily hitting only one segment of the community.”
Mr Bean said the OBA's change in tack, from criticising an increase in police numbers when in opposition to actively backing the idea was what happens when “you go from being a spectator to being a player”.
“It's ironic that only now they give us credit for stepping up the provisions made for the police to deal with the upsurge in violent crime more effectively,” he said.
“Up until the change of Government it was always a controversial issue when the OBA was the Opposition. But that's what happens when you go from being a spectator to being a player, there's a big difference.
“Now that the tables have turned they recognise the reality without understanding that as the Government politicians have very little control over police.
“You can make promises in a speech to have more police on the streets but ultimately the decision rests with the Governor and the Commissioner of Police.
“And things like Operation Ceasefire sound nice but I don't think it will be overly effective either because it deals with the effect without dealing with the cause.
“To me that's comparable to putting a Band-Aid over a deep wound, and the wound keeps festering.”