Editorial

What More Can be Done to Halt Gun and Knife Violence?

It certainly seems like we have exhausted all strategies in our book of strategies in our fight against gun and knife violence in Saint Lucia.

From splendid conservative ideas like staging a crime symposium (2017), to radical outside the box designs like Operation Restore Confidence (2010 – 2011), we seemed to have responded meaningfully to a certain type of crime, which has the power to put citizens in fear of their lives and at the same time stymied the economic growth of the country.

Yes, law enforcement agencies have their strategies to fight that type of violence, which they say are being tweaked in response to the changing times and the nature of the crimes, and the patterns exhibited by the gun and knife -toting criminals. But the reality on the ground is not in sync with the updated versions of the strategies followed by our law enforcement agencies.

With 24 homicides recorded so far this year, which averages to almost five (4.8) per month, and countless incidents of blood shedding from violence wielded through the barrel of a gun or by the sharp edges of different blades, there is reason enough to question the effectiveness of the crime strategies in use by our law enforcement agencies which are directed at those type of crimes.

Let’s be clear here. This is not an indictment of our law enforcement agencies. There are different types of crimes which law enforcement agencies have to develop their own strategic ways of fighting and scoring successes against. We are fully aware of that.

Our attention today is on violence committed with guns and sharp cutting edges of a blade. Every village, town, and district of Fair Helen is tainted with blood from such violence. And when we think we have that type of violence under control, it rears its head again and again, sometimes with a ferocity and a brazenness that demands us and every right-thinking Saint Lucian to call on their law enforcement agencies again, to do something – but what?.

We float the idea of having another much publicised police operation. The last one, Operation Restore Confidence, did score a certain measure of success, meaning it did achieve a reduction in gun and knife violence in the country during its life span and even after.

Whilst we are fully aware of what followed in the wake of that operation, which contains lessons from which we could learn how not to repeat the mistakes made back then, we believe that a much publicised police operation, designed specifically to tackle gun violence in particular, could very well result in stopping the frequency of such violence in the country.

Understand this, at the time of Operation Restore Confidence, criminals had almost taken control of Saint Lucia, a point a high-ranking police officer at the time confirmed to us recently. We posit as well, that Saint Lucians memories are not that short for them not to remember the type and frequency of the criminal activities at the time.

“People were being shot in daylight in full public view and no one dared to assist the police with investigations, because doing so would have almost certainly resulted in the murdering of witnesses,” a police source told us, recounting the La Clery incident in which a 9-year-old girl was murdered in her bed when criminals went after a witness to a murder.

Today we will not say like the police officer that “criminals have almost taken control of Saint Lucia”. What we will say, however, is that the criminals in our midst are brazen, armed with modern day firearms that could kill more than one person in one squeeze of a trigger. Further, the criminals are oblivious to law and order.

Those types of criminals must be stopped, and at all costs, because if they are not and are allowed to gain in confidence in their evil deeds, Saint Lucia will acquire a reputation steeped in blood and mayhem that will cut short its development on many good fronts, something we are sure no right thinking Saint Lucian wants. But that is the lesser of two evils.  The greater, and intolerable evil, is that law abiding citizens of Fair Helen must live in fear and uncertainty. Our society is under threat.

We close with the words of John Donne:

“Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.”

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