At a police conference this afternoon, the Commissioner of Police Mike DeSilva and Minister of Public Safety David Burch announced a new range of initiatives to combat what they termed an “unprecedented escalation of crime“.
The major announcements including receiving specific anti gang training from the FBI, joining in with FBI operational attachments, in excess of a dozen new firearm officers brought in from the UK, and specialist investigation officers also being brought in.
Minister Burch said that three years ago when bringing in assistance from overseas was first mentioned, “everyone said no, and now its wanted“. In his typical no nonsense style, the Minister said that they may become “hard of hearing when the whining starts”. The Minister said the projected cost [salaries, additional office space etc] for the additional services is approximately $1 million.
Explaining the serious crime unit was not initially designed to handle the workload it is, the Commissioner said the police have 14 murders under active investigation [50% from the last year] and over 20 attempted murders and shootings under investigation.
It was also announced that over a dozen police officers were being brought in from the UK for temporary 3 – 6 month assignments. The officers were described as “not frontline”, instead being case review officers, investigators and intelligence analysts. In addition, specially trained firearm officers are being brought in to support the Police efforts. All officers are from the UK.
The Bermuda Police received training from the Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI] in January, and the next set of training is due to incorporate related groups such as custom and correction officers. Local police will be sent away in groups of 2 or 3 to join in with FBI operational attachments for training in street level tactics. The training will focuse on anti-gang measures, and Commissioner DeSilva said the Bermuda Police are very grateful to the FBI for lending their expertise.
The Bermuda Police have also been invited to join an American law enforcement ‘information sharing network’, meaning they will have access to further information on gangs, symbolic tattoos, guns and much more. In addition, this means that the American law enforcement will have access to information of persons of interest to the Bermuda Police, meaning they will be able to monitor them when they are in the USA.
Minister of Public Safety Lt. Col. David Burch’s statement in full:
Three years ago when the leadership of this Government first sought overseas assistance – everyone in this country said no. Now we have reached the point where everyone is now saying when are we going to get overseas assistance? So suffice to say we will become a little hard of hearing when the whining starts about actions taken.
One of the earliest steps taken by this Administration in response to the spike in crime was to discuss with His Excellency the Governor and the Bermuda Police Service leadership the question of overseas assistance to augment the capabilities of the Police.
The current Governor agreed that such assistance would be of tremendous benefit, particularly as the level of illegal firearms activity continued to increase. The BPS provided an outline of the areas of support that would be most beneficial; the Government considered and approved all that they sought.
Government has also agreed to support a plan to fill existing vacancies within the service with trained firearms officers. This will augment the number of officers who are so trained, and thereby provide relief for existing firearms officers.
The Commissioner will expand on the specific details of some of that assistance and what actions the BPS is taking to address the current situation.
This support, however, comes at a cost. But it is a cost that we must pay. The additional overseas support, including salaries, temporary office space, accommodations and relocation costs will require approximately one million dollars in additional funding. I anticipate that at the appropriate time there will be universal support should a supplementary be necessary. The cost of the additional fire arms officers is covered in the salary allocations already provided to the BPS.
Government House, this Government and the Bermuda Police Service are united in our approach and our efforts to combat this unprecedented escalation in crime. It is our desire that every Bermudian and resident will return to the sense of peace and prosperity that we have long enjoyed.
Let me also thank those members of the public who have provided the BPS with vital information that has led to the arrest of several culprits and I encourage them to continue to do so.
Commissioner of Police Michael DeSilva remarks in full:
In January I published the annual policing plan for 2010 and made a commitment to Making Bermuda Safer through tackling crime and enhancing public confidence. As the Minister has mentioned, almost all of our efforts lately have been aimed at improving these two areas. We are progressing in the areas where we are short on experience, and we are building more capacity where we are short on staffing. So it is left to me to report on the results of our enquiries for overseas assistance that have met support from Government and endorsement from Government House:
14 members of staff have been hired on a temporary basis ranging from 3 to 6 months each to support our investigations in the Serious Crime Unit. We currently have 14 murders under active investigation, half of which occurred in the last 12 months. Additionally, we have 21 attempted murder/shooting investigations that are being handled by the Serious Crime Unit. The Unit was not designed to handle that kind of workload. Some temporary staff arrived in late January, others arrived more recently: the idea being to provide protracted investigative support, rather than having everyone here at the same time. None of the staff are front-line police officers, instead they are tasked with: Case reviews (reviewing older cases for new lines of enquiry); Investigators; Intelligence analysts.
A number of trained police officers have been selected from the UK for hire, and they will arrive in Bermuda next month. These officers are already trained and authorised as firearms officers in the UK. They will join a number of local officers who received their firearms training earlier this year for some joint training, before both groups then join the main firearms team on operational duties.
Assistant Commissioner of Police:
With the promotion of Deputy Commissioner Jackman and I in December, a vacancy was created in the second Assistant Commissioner’s post. Following advertisements posted overseas, 3 candidates have been invited to Bermuda this week to interview for the position. The ideal candidate will have a proven and recent track record of developing strategies and operational tactics that reduce crime and antisocial behaviour, particularly in relation to gang violence and the use of firearms. Rather than race our Superintendents to the next rank – all of whom are new in the post – I have decided to enhance their training by providing operational postings in the UK to give wider exposure to operational policing. In the meantime, the new Assistant Commissioner will provide coaching and mentoring to our staff in areas of policing that are quite new to the Bermuda Police Service. A contract not longer than 3 years duration will be offered at which time one of the local Superintendents will have been identified for the position.
FBI Support & Training:
Following on from the training provided by the FBI in Bermuda in January, a second course is being planned to incorporate some of our partner agencies including: the DPPs Office, Customs, Immigration, Corrections and Probation Services. The FBI has tremendous experience in this task-force approach to tackling gangs and there are many learning opportunities for Bermuda in this regard.
The Bermuda Police Service has been invited by the FBI to join their information sharing network. This will give local police access to US national databases on guns, ammunition, gangs, graffiti, tattoos and internet sites – all designed to help us understand the local gang problem better and more quickly. More importantly, access to this network puts US law enforcement agencies on alert for persons that Bermuda has interests in. So, if the police are monitoring an individual in Bermuda – the US authorities will also look out for them when they are in the States.
We have also been invited to take part in operational attachments with the FBI and its partners to get a first hand look at intelligence systems and street level tactics. I expect to be able to send some of our staff across in two’s and three’s starting very soon. This is a tremendous training opportunity for our local police officers who will benefit from the tried and tested methods of our US counterparts. I am extremely grateful to the FBI for these generous offers.
New York Police Department:
Following some earlier telephone calls this year, we met last week with senior officers from the Gang Division of NYPD. They were very welcoming – as we find with most of our sister police forces – and we looked at their intelligence systems, operational teams and community outreach initiatives. It was reassuring that we are, in fact, already doing many of the same things they are. There may be opportunities for our staff to visit NYPD – and indeed other agencies as we are open to following best practice wherever we find it. However, no details have been worked out just at the moment and quite clearly we have our hands full with the other projects we are working on.
- 2012 End of Year Crime Statistics Released
- Police Release 2011 Crime Statistics
- Police: 2011 Second Quarter Crime Statistics
- Burch & DeSilva on 2010 Crime Statistics
- Police: 2010 Crime Statistics Report
- Police Release 2012 Second Quarter Crime Statistics
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