Senator: Inter-Agency Gang Taskforce Update

July 15, 2015

Junior Minister of National Security Jeffrey Baron provided an update on the Inter-Agency Gang Taskforce today  [July 15] in the Senate, saying its “mission is to advance Bermuda’s public safety interests and empower the community by leading and coordinating resources to reduce and prevent gun violence and gang influence.”

Senator Baron said, “Bermuda experienced an increase in violent offence over the last decade, specifically firearm offences and other weapons offences. Coupled with this are other offences related to antisocial behaviours and disorder offences.

“Available data shows that a total of 228 firearm offences were recorded between 2010 and 2013. A further 206 offences were for other weapons during this same period. Antisocial behaviours accounted for 2,079 criminal offences during 2010 and 2013. Additionally, a total of 21 persons have been murdered by firearms incidents since 2010.

“In response to this rise in gun violence [together with gang-related violent incidents], the Government strengthened internal and formed external partnerships with various community stakeholders groups to address the root causes, promote prevention, and deal with offenders.

“Bermuda has followed a sustainable solution based in a holistic approach that breaks the cycle by responding to each individual contributing factor: prevention, deterrence, and offenders.

Senator Baron said three examples of these various partnerships are: Inter-Agency Gang Taskforce [IGTF], Inter-Agency Gang Enforcement Team [IGET] and Inter-Agency Community Response [ICR].

“Under the guidance of the Ministry responsible for Public Safety, IGTF was established in November 2010 on the premise that a cross-Ministry working group would be the ideal means to holistically develop policy to address increasing incidents of antisocial behaviour and gang-related violence and the resulting consequences to Bermudian society,” Senator Baron continued.

“Its mission is to advance Bermuda’s public safety interests and empower the community by leading and coordinating resources to reduce and prevent gun violence and gang influence. A core goal is to gather information that will facilitate evidence-based decision making for gang-related activities and programmes.

“IGET has been meeting since February 2011 and has focused on facilitating and coordinating the sharing of information between key law enforcement agencies.

“The Ministry of National Security was tasked with establishing a community component for the Inter-Agency Gang Task Force [IGTF].

“Under the coordination of Mr. Vernon Wears Jr, the Policy and Project Coordinator for the Ministry of National Security, and the direction of Co-chairs Martha Dismont of the Family Centre and Kimberley Jackson of the Mirrors Programme, the Inter-Agency Community Response team [ICR] was implemented and set out to develop an action plan to meet the needs of Bermuda’s gang issues.

“The main objective of the ICR is to promote community engagement for the overall IGTF initiative with the goal that every relevant programme and initiative stemming from this level should be focused on positively engaging Bermuda’s youth from 5 – 25 years old, thus lessening the pull towards antisocial behavior.

“ICR has been very active over the past year engaging the community. ICR has implemented a coordinated crisis response initiative over the holiday periods from December 2014 to current to assist community members. The faith based community, KEMH, Bermuda Police Service, Child & Family Services and counselors have volunteered their services as an on call system for the community as needed.

Senator Baron added that the “partnership combines the efforts of both government and the community to promote transparent collaboration that attempts to offer more positive options for Bermuda’s youth in the effort to proactively reduce the rise of youth and gun violence.”

Senator Baron’s full statement follows below:

Madam President, Bermuda experienced an increase in violent offence over the last decade, specifically firearm offences and other weapons offences. Coupled with this are other offences related to antisocial behaviours and disorder offences.

Madam President, available data shows that a total of 228 firearm offences were recorded between 2010 and 2013. A further 206 offences were for other weapons during this same period. Antisocial behaviours accounted for 2,079 criminal offences during 2010 and 2013. Additionally, a total of 21 persons have been murdered by firearms incidents since 2010 [Department of National Drug Control’s BerDIN Annual Reports 2012, 2013, 2014].

Madam President, in response to this rise in gun violence [together with gang-related violent incidents], the Government strengthened internal and formed external partnerships with various community stakeholders groups to address the root causes, promote prevention, and deal with offenders. Bermuda has followed a sustainable solution based in a holistic approach that breaks the cycle by responding to each individual contributing factor: prevention, deterrence, and offenders.

Madam President, three examples of these various partnerships are:

  • Inter-Agency Gang Taskforce [IGTF]
  • Inter-Agency Gang Enforcement Team [IGET]
  • Inter-Agency Community Response [ICR]

Madam President, under the guidance of the Ministry responsible for Public Safety, IGTF was established in November 2010 on the premise that a cross-Ministry working group would be the ideal means to holistically develop policy to address increasing incidents of antisocial behaviour and gang-related violence and the resulting consequences to Bermudian society.

Madam President, its mission is to advance Bermuda’s public safety interests and empower the community by leading and coordinating resources to reduce and prevent gun violence and gang influence. A core goal is to gather information that will facilitate evidence-based decision making for gang-related activities and programmes.

Madam President, IGTF’s key objectives include

  • Identifying overlaps and gaps in existing youth initiatives and programmes;
  • Developing assessment tools that identifies the challenges and needs of families; and
  • Conducting local research related to the current gang situation in Bermuda.

Madam President, IGET has been meeting since February 2011 and has focused on facilitating and coordinating the sharing of information between key law enforcement agencies.

Madam President, you will recall that the Ministry of National Security was tasked with establishing a community component for the Inter-Agency Gang Task Force [IGTF]. Under the coordination of Mr. Vernon Wears Jr, the Policy and Project Coordinator for the Ministry of National Security, and the direction of Co-chairs Martha Dismont of the Family Centre and Kimberley Jackson of the Mirrors Programme, the Inter-Agency Community Response team [ICR] was implemented and set out to develop an action plan to meet the needs of Bermuda’s gang issues.

Madam President, the main objective of the ICR is to promote community engagement for the overall IGTF initiative with the goal that every relevant programme and initiative stemming from this level should be focused on positively engaging Bermuda’s youth from 5 – 25 years old, thus lessening the pull towards antisocial behavior.

Madam President, ICR’s role is to:

  • Assess the risk of gang involvement, and other mal-adaptive behaviors, in the community with the aim to provide strategies for prevention and intervention to parents, schools, the community;
  • To provide education to the community on gang involvement prevention, through community roundtables discussion and empowerment;
  • To identify resources that can be provided to the community; and
  • To engage other service providers in offering their services through outreach programmes.

Madam President, ICR has been very active over the past year engaging the community. ICR has implemented a coordinated crisis response initiative over the holiday periods from December 2014 to current to assist community members. The faith based community, KEMH, Bermuda Police Service, Child & Family Services and counselors have volunteered their services as an on call system for the community as needed.

Madam President, I would like to thank the volunteers for their support and willingness to be a part of the Crisis Response Team for the community and the hospital.

Madam President, the public may recall another government promise that has been fulfilled; the “Change By Us” initiative. “Change By Us” serves as roundtable discussions to increase public awareness and be the vehicle for community participants to generate ideas and actions to promote positive youth development and deter anti-social behaviors. The outcome is to serve as a community mobilization catalyst to link and drive community action/activities to address the community’s own needs.

Madam President, the first roundtable was a Gang 101 information and awareness session held on December 4, 2013 at the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity in Hamilton. The second phase launched in January 2015. Throughout this year, partnerships were developed to support the needs of the at risk population. 3 communities were engaged to connect the at risk population to job opportunities and education.

Madam President, another key initiative that has been completed was the pilot of an assessment tool to gain an understanding of youth who are at risk for antisocial behaviors. The Trauma Indicator Checklist assessment tool was developed by Dr. Stephanie Guthman of the Family Centre. The Co-Chairs of ICR will be presenting their recommendations to all stakeholders before the end of August 2015.

Madam President, we have worked with the Ministry of Education, the Department of Education, Principals and the Bermuda Parent and Teacher Association to implement the Trauma Indicator Checklist initiative. In fact, members from the Department of Education are key partners on all the three levels of the IGTF and collaborated on the development of this initiative. We are very grateful for the partnership of these bodies in assisting us to carry these important objectives.

Madam President, our partnership combines the efforts of both government and the community to promote transparent collaboration that attempts to offer more positive options for Bermuda’s youth in the effort to proactively reduce the rise of youth and gun violence.

Madam President, I am thankful to the Honourable Premier for appointing me as Co-Chair of the IGTF along with the Secretary for National Security, Major Marc Telemaque. IGTF has implemented a number of innovative and successful initiatives that are aimed at lessening the pull towards antisocial behavior such as G.R.E.A.T and ICR.

Thank you, Madam President.

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Comments (5)

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  1. So who is monitoring the cooperate gangs?

    • Second last paragraph indicates, promote transparent collaboration
      You expect the community to be transparent and you guys are doing a pack.
      What a F!@#*** joke.

  2. Unbelievable says:

    You don’t know what you re talking about. Again.

  3. hmmmm says:

    Why every time I see Michael and Jeff together they remind me of the 1960 batman and Robin TV series.