Gun crazy

Police chief says smugglers are getting help

Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith has said that persons charged with protecting the island’s borders may be assisting with the smuggling of illegal guns into the country, either wittingly or unwittingly.

While addressing the media at a press conference at the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) headquarters on Roebuck Street, Bridgetown this afternoon, Griffith spoke of an “abundance” of illegal weapons here, which he said were entering Barbados “through legitimate ports of entry” and were creating an untenable situation.

Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith
Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith

“From an investigative view point, it is clear that there is an abundance of high caliber weapons and large quantities of available ammunition on the streets. What is also clear is that [those] weapons are not lawfully manufactured in Barbados and the wider region, so they are being smuggled into the island. Our intelligence suggests they are coming through legitimate ports of entry, either assisted by officials, or not detected by them at our borders,” Griffith said

“This is an untenable situation which has to be addressed if we are to stem the flow of these weapons.”

Asked if he believed some of these guns were being brought in through ports other than the island’s two main ports of entry, Grantley Adams International Airport and the Bridgetown Port, Griffith avoided singling out any port. However, he suggested there were weak points about which the police were concerned.

“I won’t say we have evidence. I would say there are areas of concern. Obviously the criminal elements will look for the weakest points and it is something that we are very, very [worried about]. These are things which we have to take into consideration, but I wouldn’t say we have any evidence,” he said. The police chief disclosed that officers had recovered 33 high-powered guns so far for the year, including Tec-9, a self loading semi- automatic pistol; .380, .40, .45 and 9mm. pistols, adding that most of the weapons were being brought into the island as parts and were being re-assembled on our shores.

Additionally, Griffith said the issue of guns being “rented out” was still a cause of worry, as two police officers had been shot by “rented guns” to date.

Flanked by other high ranking police officials including Acting Deputy Commissioner Oral Williams and Acting Assistant Commissioners Lila Strickland, Livingstone Eversley, Erwin Boyce and Eucklyn Thompson, the police chief said investigations had revealed illegal drugs were at the heart of the recent spate of gun related crimes.

“From a law enforcement perspective, these gunfights are results of feuds between rival groups where there is a common denominator in that of illegal drug activity being at the core of the disputes.”

Despite these challenges, the Commissioner gave his assurance that police were doing everything in their power to bring the situation under control.

“The strategy going forward is to continue reinforcing the strategies that exist in that we are ensuring that every gun-related case that is reported to us, and that we become aware of, we are going to be assiduous in ensuring that we get to the bottom and bringing those persons responsible to justice.

“In addition to that, we will be reinforcing our efforts in those challenged communities and creating a presence. We will be ensuring that we bring those people to justice,” Griffith maintained.

Meanwhile the top law enforcement officer indicated that the perception of crime in Barbados did not match the reality, stating that the figures showed no major increase in serious crime in 2015.

Only last week during Parliament, Attorney- General Adriel Brathwaite revealed there had been a 13 per cent increase in overall crime for the first seven months of the year. However, Griffith told reporters that figure needed to be seen in its proper context. “You would have heard elsewhere that there was a 13 per cent increase in crime at the end of July 2015, over the said period for 2014. I think it is important to put this into context, not to adjust it. The impression could be given that this increase has been in respect of serious crimes and that is surely not the case,” the Commissioner contended.

He explained that murder, manslaughter, rape, burglary, aggravated burglary, crimes against visitors and theft from persons were considered serious crimes.

The commissioner revealed that at the end of July 2015 there were 4782 cases, compared to 4312 for the corresponding period last year.

He said while this represented an increase of 470 cases, or ten per cent, serious crimes contributed very little to that number.

The police chief blamed the rise in crime on the upsurge in drug cases, where there were 212 cases more than for the corresponding period last year.

Griffith said police had also seen an increase of 41 fraud cases, and 51 public order breaches over last year.

He disclosed that cases related to murder, manslaughter, rape, aggravated burglaries and burglaries were all down when compared to 2014.

“When we total these crimes we recognize that there is very little movement over the last year. That is, for these serious crimes there were 1340 in 2014 and 1348 in 2015, a mere increase of eight cases.

“What also must be taken into account is that in 2015, in response to an increase in the use of firearms, a decision was taken to prefer in addition to the parent charge for example of wounding with intent or endangering life, the charge of unlawful use of a firearm. This was not the case in 2014 and so to date this accounts for an increase in some 22 cases over last year,” the commissioner said.

Griffith said there had been 17 murders for the year so far, compared to 19 at the same point in 2014; there were no manslaughter cases compared to one in 2014; 32 rape cases as opposed to 26 for the corresponding period in 2014; 46 aggravated burglaries compared to 47 in 2014 and 953 burglaries compared to 960 for the same time last year.

However, there was an 18 per cent increase in rape cases with 196 in 2015 so far compared to 178 in 2014. There were also increases in firearm cases, with 134 reported so far in 2015 compared to 128 in 2014, and theft, which increased from 99 in 2014 to 104.

“The public currently apprehends a heightened fear of gun related crimes. Statistics show to date that we have an increase of six as it relates to gun related crimes. This is not really catastrophic. This is not really a catastrophic increase.”

While there was a slight increase in crimes against visitors –– rising 182 to 188, Griffith said because of the 14 per cent increase in arrivals this might actually represent a “significant reduction.”

7 Responses to Gun crazy

  1. seagul August 21, 2015 at 3:26 am

    Corsica-Also called the isle of beauty, every year Europeans flock with many unaware that the island is awash in murder. With a population of only 300.000 there are brutal murders every week and several are also prominent legislators…Many governments have come and gone and nothing has changed. When a head of the chamber of commerce is killed that is an escalation of the violence. This is democratic Mediterranean Mr Grifith, wake up, an increase in crime is an increase in crime.

    • Kevin August 21, 2015 at 6:55 pm

      I’m not downplaying the issue one bit. But 17 murders from Jan – Aug is not being ‘awashed’ with murder.

  2. jrsmith August 21, 2015 at 5:20 am

    All we are getting in Barbados, is talk, talk and silly comments from the police and politicians , on crime in our violent Barbados.

    Chief of police said ,the rise in crime is blame on drugs, that’s easy to say, we were also reminded by the Attorney general, gun crime is on the increase, thanks for reminding us., then comes the preachers with they bit. All talk.
    No one with any ideas to , stop the madness, we are having families our bajans , holding they tummies and screaming ,because they are loosing they love ones ,by guns and knives and also accidents. you the people who suppose to manage our Barbados get your fingers out do something , or get out of office ,let some else try.

    Our acting ,commissionaire , is openly saying ,we have serious corruption in our border security, at our sea and airport. What are you going to do sir, use our Defence Force to help, stop and search vehicle and individuals, do something

    Bajans are seeing ,murders , laughing and enjoying they arrest, when are this going to change, the criminals in Barbados, need to be having sleepless night.


  3. Tony Webster August 21, 2015 at 6:03 am

    News-flash: just like the Ag, the COP (Ag); the Churches; the very honourable minster of health (“health”??, wid so many people dying of lead-poisoning).

    Remind me please, exactly what is meant by a “tipping-point”?

    While at it, remind me of the wisdom of trying fruitlessly to solve a problem by continuing to do the same thing all the time, and hoping (praying?)…that somehow, one will achieve a different result?

    I have a solution: get Esther to pass a law banning social networks; media houses; word-of-mouth, and neighbourhood watches, all who are continually flashing-about descriptions of certain folks cruising around our distraicts, either in cars with three-four guys in it, or even those “lone operators” on foot, looking “casually”, from side-to-side.

    BTW, once upon a time, when our “relevant authorities” spoke to the public about crime, and crime statistics, they were careful to always describe such as “REPORTED” crime. I notice that this lexicon…has disappeared: cud be someone either absent-mindedly over-looked this; or was instructed to do so; or it could even be that evary single crime , nowadays, is “reported”, and that the figures trotted-out, are exactly, precisely, and 100% totally representative of actual crime in this Blessed Rock.

    Why, God, have you cursed me wid a good memory?

  4. harry turnover August 21, 2015 at 8:25 am

    “Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith has said that persons charged with protecting the island’s borders may be assisting with the smuggling of illegal guns into the country, either wittingly or unwittingly.”

    Not now COP…EVER SINCE….it is just on a bigger scale now as more money is there for the taking.You must also include illegal drugs coming through,and not only guns.

    What the Authorities should do is to assign Officers at those Ports on a random basis or change them at the last minute.

    By the way persons charged with protecting the Island’s borders include the Coast Guard,Customs,Immigration.and the Police.,and I would target the Coast Guard and the Customs to start with.

  5. Alex Alleyne August 21, 2015 at 9:15 am

    For a while now I kept asking the question of where these gunmen getting the bullets from ,now the Acting Commissioner is concern about the “readily availability of ammunition” along with “rented fire arms” . If that is not enough , he also add to the pool “leaders that stay far from the action” .
    This tells me that the Police have very good information on who renting these guns and the supplier(s) of bullets.
    Can’t see all this coming from down in NEW ORLEANS

  6. jrsmith August 21, 2015 at 11:34 am

    We get from our politicians, the attitude, their are not really bothered, but say any crap when it suits them.
    From our police ,they know so much, but do nothing, we must all come to the same conclusion, all of our government ,all of our security, is been paid by our tax payers for they failure.

    People of Barbados , what you all think will happen one day, if a family member of our uppity police force, or one of our politicians get injured or die by the hands of street scum , that we must ponder. we will see.


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