National Security Minister: Overview Of Initiatives

October 6, 2017 | 13 Comments

Speaking in the House of Assembly today [Oct 6], Minister of National Security Wayne Caines provided an overview of the policy initiatives underway within his Ministry, spanning the Fire Service, Customs, Corrections, Regiment, as well as initiatives to reduce gang violence.

Minister Wayne Caines Bermuda Oct 6 2017 TC

Firefighters Recruit Course 

The Minister said a recruit course has commenced with eight trainee firefighters and it is intended that another course will start early in 2018, and the “Government is pleased to support these overdue efforts at compensating for the lack of staff caused by natural attrition and hiring freezes.”

Filling Posts At Customs

“With the Collector of Customs and the Collectorate we have also started the effort to fill posts for which funding has been approved but recruitment stymied by previous policies,” Minister Caines said. “This is critical to the responsibilities Customs has in border control generally and for ensuring Bermuda passes muster in the anti-money laundering regime.”

Regiment Maritime Patrolling 

Minister Caines said, “As we promised in this year’s Throne Speech, the Royal Bermuda Regiment assuming responsibility for inshore maritime patrolling from the Police will become a reality. The necessary posts are approved and we will work to ensure they are properly funded for the next fiscal year.

Budgets

“I have convened a meeting with each departmental controller and with the assistance of the Ministry’s controller have begun the process of identifying savings to be realized in the respective budgets,” Minister Caines said.

“I have asked department heads to examine private sector leases and space needs to reduce rents paid; targets have been set to reduce overtime for the remainder of this fiscal year and to carry the practice into the next; everything from clothing and uniform costs to what we spend repairing vehicles is on the table.

“This is not austerity for austerity’s sake but we must identify funding that can be reprioritized to meet the objectives we promised to deliver for the people of Bermuda.

Gang Violence Reduction Coordinator

Speaking on appointing Pastor Leroy Bean as the promised Gang Violence Reduction Coordinator, the Minister said, “Pastor Bean’s singular focus will be on implementing programmes to reduce gang violence and anti-social behavior.”

Tackle Systemic Racial & Economic Issues

Minister Caines said, “We were elected to tackle the systemic racial and economic issues that have created the conditions for gangs, violence and anti-social behaviour in this country.

“For too long the narrative has been dictated by those whose interests are more aligned with the sport of character assassination and not with achieving social justice and economic equality.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, understandably, in recent years the Ministry of National Security has become defined by the work of the Police and policies related to gun violence.

This does occupy a tremendous amount of time and focus but the Ministry is more than that. I am therefore pleased to update this Honourable House and the public on the varied policy initiatives in train since my appointment as the Minister on 20th July following the General Election.

Mr. Speaker, in addition to introductory meetings with department heads and staff, I have taken the opportunity to initiate detailed discussions to determine how each department can more effectively serve the people of Bermuda.

Firefighters

Mr. Speaker, with the Chief Fire Officer and his Assistant Chiefs, a recruit course has commenced with eight [8] trainee firefighters and it is intended that another course will start early in 2018.

This is critical to the service standard and man-management aims of the BFRS and this Government is pleased to support these overdue efforts at compensating for the lack of staff caused by natural attrition and hiring freezes. Without this, we run the risk of “burn out” among our first responders.

Customs

Mr. Speaker, with the Collector of Customs and the Collectorate we have also started the effort to fill posts for which funding has been approved but recruitment stymied by previous policies. This is critical to the responsibilities Customs has in border control generally and for ensuring Bermuda passes muster in the anti-money laundering regime.

Additionally, Mr. Speaker, legislative changes required to promote a more secure framework around the sharing of information between Services are under consideration. This is required as part of the NAMLC preparedness.

Corrections

Mr. Speaker, I am keenly aware of the vital role played by the Department of Corrections in restoring our citizens to society. I fully support the Commissioner’s emphasis on restoring lives and rehabilitation of offenders. I have had the opportunity to see first-hand the results of this approach when I recently attended an event to mark the completion of such a programme at The Right Living House.

Mr. Speaker, I eagerly anticipate attending the graduation of a young man with his GED, who found the inspiration behind bars to pass the programme with flying colours.

Regiment

Mr. Speaker, as we promised in this year’s Throne Speech, the Royal Bermuda Regiment assuming responsibility for inshore maritime patrolling from the Police will become a reality. The necessary posts are approved and we will work to ensure they are properly funded for the next fiscal year.

Budgets

Mr. Speaker, across the Ministry I have convened a meeting with each departmental controller and with the assistance of the Ministry’s controller have begun the process of identifying savings to be realized in the respective budgets.

Mr. Speaker, I have asked department heads to examine private sector leases and space needs to reduce rents paid; targets have been set to reduce overtime for the remainder of this fiscal year and to carry the practice into the next; everything from clothing and uniform costs to what we spend repairing vehicles is on the table.

Mr. Speaker, this is not austerity for austerity’s sake but we must identify funding that can be reprioritized to meet the objectives we promised to deliver for the people of Bermuda.

Gang Violence Reduction

Mr. Speaker, whilst I have recently commented on our progress in the area of initiatives aimed at combating the gang lifestyle, these are important enough to be reiterated in this Honourable House.

Mr. Speaker, this government promised the people of Bermuda that we would “give reducing gang violence the priority it deserves”. Since July, I have been focused on that goal. Every morning at 9am I chair a meeting of the Ministry team engaged in the programmes around gang violence reduction and every day we focus on a portion of the strategy that can be better developed and isolate those areas that need greater attention.

In just 11 weeks the Ministry of National Security team has responded well to the challenge I issued when I was appointed. It was necessary to build on the work that had been done and in some cases sharpen the focus of existing programmes and resources to produce measurable outcomes.

In our first 60 days, we have:

  • Commenced an internal review of current programmes and initiatives
  • Relaunched the Inter-agency Gang Task Force [IGTF]
  • Stabilized Team StreetSafe with much needed financial support
  • Relaunched the Coordinated Crisis Response [CCR] to ensure a clear response to any incident
  • Implemented the Inter-Faith Working Group – launched with a multi-denominational meeting last month; and
  • Supported the implementation of Moms on a Mission [MOM], a support group for mothers directly affected by gun violence

Mr. Speaker, this is just the beginning. As a team we have determined the core goals and objectives of our work in this area. We intend to measure ourselves by these goals and have committed to delivering on them for the people of Bermuda.

  • 1. We aim to change the pattern of behavior of individuals involved in group and gang violence and reintegrate them back into mainstream society.
  • 2. We are determined to prevent young people from joining gangs and engaging in anti-social behavior
  • 3. We will connect at-risk youth, men and women with the necessary helping agencies that will aid in addressing mental and social health issues; and perhaps most importantly,
  • 4. We must create opportunities of employment for young people and others who have previously been deemed “unemployable” because of their past.

Pastor Leroy Bean As Gang Violence Reduction Coordinator

The team I found in place was essentially a two-man operation who have devoted enormous time and talent to the task at hand. In keeping with the promise we made in our First 100 Days Platform, I have determined to strengthen that team and broaden the reach of our initiatives by engaging Pastor Leroy Bean as the promised Gang Violence Reduction Coordinator.

Pastor Bean has 14 years’ experience working with gangs in Bermuda and has been a Residential Care Officer within the former Department of Social Services. He holds degrees in family and addiction counselling and has committed himself to working within the communities affected by gang violence. Through his efforts many young men have chosen better paths for their lives and he will make an important addition to the Ministry’s team.

As we promised in the First 100 Days Platform, Pastor Bean’s singular focus will be on implementing programmes to reduce gang violence and anti-social behavior. He will be the lead in those areas designed to engage various aspects of the community including clergy and local employers, all with the goal of transitioning young men and women away from the gang lifestyle with viable social and economic alternatives.

Mr. Speaker, I am determined that this work within the Ministry will not be defined by deliberate distractions created by criticisms of the salary paid to Pastor Bean or long settled issues around previous projects.

Tackle Systemic Racial & Economic Issues

We were elected to tackle the systemic racial and economic issues that have created the conditions for gangs, violence and anti-social behaviour in this country. For too long the narrative has been dictated by those whose interests are more aligned with the sport of character assassination and not with achieving social justice and economic equality.

Mr. Speaker, the message of July 18th is that business as usual is unacceptable. The loud voice of the people demands that we make transformative change to this society and this starts with how we approach this issue of violence in this community.

The electoral mandate of this Government compels us to discard petty politics, to urgently address root causes and to support every genuine attempt to do so.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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Comments (13)

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  1. Wats Up says:

    The Minister has recognized that hundreds of positions in these department have been lost and is making the right call to fill them. How he will find funding is not explained but I wish him luck.

  2. Joe Bloggs says:

    Customs: more money for more staff – uh huh.

    Regiment Maritime Patrolling: more money for more staff – uh huh.

    Budgets: “I have asked department heads to examine private sector leases and space needs to reduce rents paid; targets have been set to reduce overtime for the remainder of this fiscal year” – Have you sought the agreement of the unions? Many people rely on overtime to get by in Bermuda.

    • Hmm says:

      When are they going to implement a minimum wage in Bermuda?

    • Bermudian Patriot says:

      Customs uhhh, no new staff, jus promotions. Where are de New pics? The public wanna see da new people promoted !!!

      • Smoke & Mirrors says:

        PLEASE HIRE SOME CUSTOMS OFFICERS WITH A PERSONALITY AT THE AIRPORT. THIS IS THE FIRST TIME THAT VISITORS INTERACT WITH SOMEONE AND I CRINGE AT HOW SOME PEOPLE ARE SPOKEN TO. THERE ARE SOME AWESOME OFFICERS AT WORK THERE THAT CAN ASK QUESTIONS AND GET THE JOB DONE IN A PLEASANT MANNER. HOWEVER, OTHERS SEEM TO HAVE A CHIP ON THEIR SHOULDERS AND ARE ON SOME SORT OF POWER TRIP.

        • Bermudian Patriot says:

          Dem D ones dat got promoted! If Dey wud post der pics you cud see. Dem tryin to hide dem!!!

  3. jammel says:

    we do not need explanations are you kidding me give me a break we are government now and we can get this done we will print more money bob richards was looking in trees for money and kept saying he had not found any well he was wrong money does not grow on trees it comes out of a color printer we know that that is why we deserve the right to be government and fly around the place having luncheons

  4. David says:

    How come the ain’t put the fitness equipment in all the parks ?

    • Real Deal says:

      Because you will be going in the pocket of the people that own Gyms. that’s not cool because they invested in Gym equipment. that move would not be good for economy

    • Gabriel says:

      There’s a couple of dumbbells in the bushes.

  5. aceboy says:

    How many government employees have the PLP hired and how do they plan to keep paying them?

  6. What? says:

    Spend spend spend. Oh wait how will we pay. I asked the departments to save money. FFS bankruptcy here we come. Get the people working now to pull their weight and job down. Yes I’m sure there are some additional hires required but there is no accountability so why not be a lazy worker and get rewarded with ovetime.

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