BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – AS a result of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force’s achievements since its implementation of a peace initiative to curb gang violence, representatives from a number of agencies in Barbados had visited the Federation last week to examine the success of this dynamism.
According to a police communiqué, the representatives were from the Offices of US Embassy and the British National Crime Agency (BNCA) - which are responsible for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean – and the Royal Barbados Police Force.
The communiqué stated that the Senior Manager of the BNCA, John Bowman, said he was amazed at the results the police are having in St. Kitts and Nevis, and that he was first updated about the initiative by the High Command.
“When they informed me that they had some success and they had this operation running, I was keen to not only congratulate them on the amazing success that they had, but also to learn and get a deeper understanding as to how exactly the Police Commissioner and the other senior management team [members] managed to deal with this.”
Bowman disclosed that he was going to share the information he gathered about the initiative with some of his colleagues and other Caribbean countries that the agency supports.
The Senior Manager, who has 32 years of experience as a Police Officer, described the operation as a “new concept” that was “surprising, strategic and tactical”.
“I have to say that even I was surprised at the level of success that they’ve achieved. It’s outstanding,” he added.
He also said that he was impressed by the number of firearms taken into police custody through the effort.
According to Bowman, his agency has worked with St. Kitts to help tackle the high levels of violent crimes that have been occurring.
He said that while the BNCA was focused on drug trafficking matters primarily, it also helped to support local crime initiatives in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean through technical assistance.
“The [use of] violence and firearms is an epidemic throughout the Eastern Caribbean. Most of the islands are suffering with increased levels of violence and firearms-related deaths, so anything we can do to try to assist and support the Caribbean community, we will do so."
Since February this year, gangs in the Federation have been involved in a peace initiative which has had several significant outcomes.
According to the communiqué, the police had been engaging gang members during their operations and some of them had indicated that they wanted to put an end to the violence that was taking place among their members.
The police then sought the assistance of the Ministry of National Security and an Interim Engagement Team - comprising members from different sectors of society - was established to work with the gang members to provide various levels of support to help them get involved in alternative lifestyles.
As a result, for the period March 01 to August 26, there has been a marked decline in the number of homicides and non-fatal shootings.
Also, the gang members had recently handed over 30 firearms, ranging from an AK47 Assault Rifle, a12-gauge Shotgun, .22 Pistols and a number of Gluck Pistols, and 73 rounds of assorted ammunition as a sign of their commitment to the peace effort.