Gun spike

Almost 80 per cent of murders this year involved firearms – officials

The Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) has revamped its anti-gun unit as it wrestles with a rise in gun-related murders.

Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith this evening revealed that firearms were used in 15 of the 19 murders so far this year, representing nearly 80 per cent of all unlawful killings.

This compared to 16 of 22 for all of last year, or 72 per cent of murders.

Griffith told a joint news conference with Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite that lawmen were worried about both the murder rate and the rise in the use of guns.

As a result, changes have been made to the anti-gun unit to make it more effective.

“We have increased the numbers as well as retooled the personnel and that unit is now performing extremely well . . . to the extent that, with the assistance of TRU [Tactical Response Unit], the SCATS [Suppressing Criminal Activity Targeting Society] Unit as well as the CID [Criminal Investigations Department], we have been able to take some 44 firearms off the streets so far for the year,” he told the news conference at Police Headquarters on Roebuck Street, The City.

The top cop said he had also noticed another troubling trend of retaliatory killings by people involved in the illegal drugs trade.

Therefore, he said, people with information about those crimes were refusing to talk to police, making it difficult for lawmen to solve the murders.

“Murders are being committed among persons that know each other, persons who are often retaliating because of the whole drug situation that exists where narcotics is their turfs. Individuals are fighting for turf and as a result there is ongoing feuds. What we are seeing is that many of the deceased persons themselves are perpetrators of similar heinous crimes.

Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, flanked by Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith (right) and Deputy Commissioner of Police Oral Williams (left) at Thursday’s 5 p.m. news conference.

“And so, what is difficult is that in the past where persons report these matters and cooperate with the police, that is no longer the case in that many people are trying to exact their own revenge and so are not willingly cooperating with law enforcement to ensure that the perpetrators are brought before the law courts. And that makes it extremely difficult to solve crime relating to gang violence,” the Acting Commissioner of Police warned.

In 2015, there were 31 murders, above the average of 25 a year over the last 15 years, according to Griffith.

However, in 2006, 20 per cent of the killings involved firearms, significantly lower than the 78 per cent this year.

One of the reasons, the police chief said, was the number of illegal guns entering the country.

In the past, Griffith has pointed an accusing finger at Customs, suggesting officials there were allowing the weapons in either wittingly or unwittingly.

He made no such accusation Thursday, but said police were working closely with “other law enforcement partners” to try to curb the entry of illegal weapons.

“We are seeking to have that dialogue with our other law enforcement partners at our points of entry to ensure that we can reduce the number of firearms that are entering our ports. To do that, we have had some dialogue and we are hoping that we can have joint training in relation to the entities involved so that all of us can be on the same wave length,” the top
cop said.

He also said there had been a commitment from some of these very law enforcement partners to share information and work with the Force to take even more firearms off the streets.

However, Brathwaite said Barbados would need much greater financial and material resources to properly man the island’s “porous” borders in order to get on top of the gun problem.

Brathwaite also identified the increase in private yachts and the fishing boats that use the island’s waters as another possible avenue through which illegal weapons enter the country undetected.

“Every yacht that comes into Barbados is checked by Customs and by Immigration  . . . anyone coming into the port. All I’m making the point is that we have no mechanism. If 50 fishing boats leave Oistins this afternoon, when all 50 of them come back into Barbados, they don’t come back into the Bridgetown Port and bring their passports and Customs go onboard and check them to make sure all they brought in is flying fish.

“It is a reality in terms of our borders and how we operate. I don’t believe we have the wherewithal, or that we should move in that direction of every small fishing boat that leaves Foul Bay or Crane or Consett Bay that they should be forced to come back in and Customs board them,” he contended, stressing this was where intelligence was important.

Brathwaite also announced that pleasure cruise boat owners would now be required to provide information on the number and identity of passengers for safety and security reasons.

11 Responses to Gun spike

  1. Saga Boy July 21, 2017 at 5:52 am

    Let’s hope you guys get this crime under control soon. The criminals and potential criminals must understand that there s a zero tolerance to crime.

  2. Tony Webster July 21, 2017 at 6:16 am

    You gotta try “STING” operations, as whatever you have been doing …just ent working….and the horse is clearly…obviously…out of the stable…making the solutions exponentially more difficult.

    Sting like a bee….if you will…

  3. Alex Alleyne July 21, 2017 at 6:49 am

    After listing to the AG and the Police Commissioner , you see why the AG should be “Fired” and the Commissioner be made the AG.

  4. Sue Donym July 21, 2017 at 8:12 am

    Ahhhm, passenger manifests for cruises? I’m guessing that schools, churches, clubs and other social groups will find this tedious. Imagine a cub scout pack selling a few tickets on Broad Street; girl guides at a fish fry or a PTA asking parents to sell tickets in their neighbourhood, do they all need to request, view and produce i.d details for buyers? It would seem more meaningful to have the cruise operators to have metal detectors or more security checks.

    For goodness sake, some toes will be stepped on, but unless we’re making guns here, they’re obviously coming in somewhere. So, yes detection and enforcement officers are either lax, complicit, too few or ill equipped – probably some combination of these – in the effort to stop the flow of firearms.

    • Sue Donym July 21, 2017 at 8:56 am

      Since the AG is contemplating passenger lists for local transportation, why not go the whole hog and get them for those boarding PSVs as fights, shootings, assaults and robberies have occurred on ZRs, minibuses and Transport Board buses.

      • Jason Arthur July 22, 2017 at 10:43 pm

        Actually, I think the idea of asking for identification is an excellent one. We’ve had a ongoing problem of violence centering on these cruises for awhile now, and to ignore that fact is to everyone’s detriment. The idea of collecting ID info may be new to Bajans, but it is something that is commonplace in countries like the US and UK. Night clubs will actually scan IDs, and then your information is held in a database where it can then be accessed by the police if a crime is committed and they need to identify the people involved. There’s no need for folks to provide their identification when buying a ticket to support a cause because all that the police want to know is who is actually boarding the vessel. It’s only when you present that ticket in order to board that folks would have to provide an ID. I agree with you that other steps like metal detectors can be helpful too. No reasonable steps should be taken off the table in the current climate. We’ve got a problem that’s growing; we need to tackle it before it’s too late.

  5. Eddie Forde July 21, 2017 at 9:37 am

    I’m glad to here that something is being done about gun crime and the amount of guns taken off the streets, but this is only a small step. I’m afraid that things have gotten out of hand and it will be a big thing to make Barbados safe again. The innocent deserves it.

  6. Alex Alleyne July 21, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    You must clean up this mess “RODRIGO DUTERTE” STYLE. Its the only way…….no if’s but’s nor and’s .

  7. Outsider July 21, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    Mr Commissioner you don’t only need a gun unit you also need the death penalty back in barbados and the catlin tail for these thugs

  8. Belfast July 21, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    The Acting Commissioner and all the other members of the RBPF are trying their best, but the Attorney-General, poor chap, like the rest of his comrades-in-cabinet, appears not have a single clue.

  9. Lorenzo July 21, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    Having asked for the AG to speak i am no wiser as to the strategy going forward.I have heard the acting commissioner speak of more police on the streets and stop and searches which i agree with but what about joint patrols with the BDF,what about bringing back hanging or the cat .Surprisingly none of the journalist there asked the AG about this although the AG seems to be against Hanging ,that is his personal right but if the majority wants this then it has to be looked at and what ever signature was made would have to be recinded,as i believe Trinidad has done.


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