Public has little faith in police
Sun survey underscores widespread fear that gang/drug culture is spiralling out of control; cops say they’ve made hundreds of arrests
Friday, October 5, 2007 7:20 AM
There are fresh concerns today about the effectiveness of the police service after a new survey showed most residents have little confidence in its ability to solve drug and gang-related violent crime.
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The survey was conducted last month, four weeks after footballer Shaki Crockwell was shot dead. His killer is still on the loose.
Mr. Crockwell's death was the latest in a growing list of killings that haven't been solved. Others include Marcus Gibbings who was found dead in his apartment a year ago; Jason Lightbourne who was shot dead in a car last summer; and Shaundae Jones who was shot in Dockyard four years ago.
The survey shows nearly 70 per cent of residents are "not very" or "not at all" confident in the police's ability to bring certain criminals to court and that a massive 89 per cent of people think shootings and gang culture are getting out of control.
Police yesterday issued a statement reiterating their call for community cooperation.
They said: "Police are fully aware of the importance of tackling crime and the public's fear of rising crime. Unfortunately a number of recent violent crimes have served to heighten this belief.
"The vast majority of violent incidents involve people known to one another. As we have previously stated, the reluctance of people to assist the police only serves to compound the problem.
"The police are not complacent and are actively pursuing crime and criminals across the island. Over 4,000 people were arrested in the last year; 500 of them were arrested for drug related offences and a large quantity of drugs were seized. This should reassure the public of the police's efforts and the successes that are occurring. Despite the public concern, it is important to remember that Bermuda still remains one of the safest countries in the world."
The survey was commissioned by the Bermuda Sun and was part of the Bermuda Omnibus Survey conducted by the research arm of Total Marketing and Communications Limited.
According to the poll, 20 per cent of residents believe crime is the single most important issue, up from nine per cent earlier in the year. Police statistics show there were six firearm offences and 305 violent crimes last year.
Yesterday, Shaundae Jones' mom Marsha said it's up to the police and the community to get it right. She's now planning an awareness march for November. She said: "There should be a marriage between the community and the police. I think there is some lack of experience in investigating certain types of crime. I've always said we should exchange one or two of our guys with experienced homicide police from the U.S. that are veterans in this field.
"I wouldn't necessarily say our police are hopeless, but if you are not sure what to do, what do you do?"
Shaundae was just 18 when he was shot. Mrs. Jones said all the other murders that have taken place since then have put a strain on resources. She said: "It would be nice if we could have a homicide division that's had some hands-on training."
She also supports the idea of a witness protection programme, which the Government is looking at. "Without it, people don't want to get involved so they don't speak up," she said.
As for finding her son's killer she said: "Right now it's just hanging in the air. I don't really feel that confident that I will have closure, but I hope that I do. Everything becomes so dragged out."
Mrs. Jones said she hopes to mobilize the community next month by getting more than 1,000 people to march through town, which will include family and friends of people suffered violent deaths. More details will be released nearer the time.