Police to Intensify Operations in Escalated Crime Areas


Local authorities are intent on stepping up the anti-crime fight in order to restore law and order in the communities.

Prime Minister Phillip Pierre spoke to reporters, Monday, after having signed a document or statutory instrument to endorse the Suppression of Crime Police Powers Bill that identifies Vieux Fort South as an “escalated crime area”.

The authorities view this move as keeping in tune with newly enacted legislation aimed at empowering the police to crack down on street gangs in high crime areas due to the recent spike in deadly gun violence.

About two weeks ago, gun-toting bandits wreaked havoc in the southern community and in some instances, residents had to flee for safety, while businesses and schools were temporarily shut down to avert the impending danger. The shooting spree left at least seven persons dead, a town traumatized and people in dismay.

“The Escalated Crime Areas Act puts it (crime issue) into perspective and the statutory instrument that I signed…will cause Vieux Fort South to be an escalated crime area and that will be till May 16th,” PM Pierre told reporters on the sidelines of a Cabinet meeting.

The prime minister noted that the flexibility of this legislation allows law enforcement officers to apply these expanded powers in other communities where crime has escalated as well.

The urgency of the situation resulted in PM Pierre visiting Vieux Fort last Friday, where according to reports, he reassured residents and business people of measures being undertaken to preserve their welfare and safety in the aftermath of the town’s deadly gun violence.

However, opposition forces and human rights advocates have taken issue with the matter, which they perceive borders on the infringement on people’s civil liberties.

Nonetheless, the prime minister sought to clarify the validity of these expanded powers to the police. He explained that the police were privileged to carry out their duties “only in a specified crime area.”

In addition, said Pierre, there is a level of “recourse …and some of the things only the Commissioner of Police can deal with it and others a police (officer) above the rank of Inspector.” And since suspects can only be detained for up to 144 hours, he said, the detention period is not indefinite.

Due to the urgency of the situation, the National Security Minister reiterated that “there will be some inconveniences” that citizens must be able to cope with.

Pierre stressed: “We have to make a choice, and the choice is whether we suffer some inconvenience (for) a few moments, a few days, or we allow criminals to run the country.”

Reports indicate that officers attached to Regional Security System (RSS) arrived on island last weekend, and they will be here for the next three weeks. During that time, the RSS team will partner with local law enforcement officers to conduct patrols within the community and its environs.

The prime minister further disclosed that more resources will be allocated to the police as they step up the fight against crime, like the provision of three new vehicles last weekend.

Additionally, the officers were provided with body armour, 150 ballistic vests, scanners, drones and other equipment are being imported into the island.

“My job is to make available the resources within the abilities of the government,” he stated.

However, Pierre said operational control is in the hands of the police.

In a concerted quest to restore peace and calm within the communities, the prime minister appealed for a holistic approach to the situation with “all hands on deck” in an effort to take back the streets from dangerous criminal gangs.

PM Pierre asserted : “There’s absolutely no tolerance towards any form of lawlessness, zero tolerance … we can’t allow two or three or five or ten people to create economic instability in the country, social depravation, and put the country in chaos . We can’t allow it, and I will not allow it.”

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