Recent revelations from the nation’s top cop of a 14 per cent spike in crime were not as shocking as they were disturbing. Almost daily we are bombarded with reports of shooting incidents and troubling burglaries. And, never must we treat this increasing lawlessness with the remotest of nonchalance or complacency.
Thus, we welcome the news from Acting Police Commissioner Tyrone Griffith that he had summoned his officers to a special meeting last Friday to assess what he termed the trying times the force had been going through, account for its performance, and examine whether planned goals had been achieved.
“We spoke at length about some of the crimes we have been encountering; those aggravated burglaries at residences where people would appear as if they were on bona fide business and then forced their way into people’s residences.
“We spoke about the murders and the success that we have had, and we have had quite a bit of success in relation to the crime . . . . You would have seen a number of people before the courts in the last two weeks in relation to those matters,” Griffith reported.
We agree the speed at which perpetrators are being hauled before the law courts is commendable, and, no doubt, provides a measure of reassurance to Barbadians who are unaccustomed to this high level of crime.
We are especially concerned about the high level of gun crime, which the police chief has blamed on our vulnerable borders. We can only urge the powers that be to give this issue the attention it deserves.
Still, we aver that the fight against crime goes far beyond arrest, conviction and incarceration. Prevention is still better than cure. And it cannot only be the duty of those who took the oath to “serve, protect and reassure” to keep our streets and families safe.
It is unquestionably the responsibility of every right-thinking Barbadian to speak out, without fear or favour, against those in high and low places whose unlawful actions perpetrate this terror we now face. We are still our brother’s keeper, at the heart of which are still considerateness and respect.
The latter value was undermined just last week by the unsettling public display of a gun at no less an occasion than a funeral. Foremost, it is disconcerting the scant regard which an increasing number of adults have for institutions long held as sacred. The church and its environs are still hallowed ground.
That one would venture to take a gun to any church ceremony must be strongly condemned. Bibles and hymn books are taken to church events; not firearms nor any other type of weapon.
Yet one ought not to be too shocked when, upon reflection, our priests and pastors have been decrying the conduct of some folks at funerals these days: women scantily dressed, youth smoking and drinking –– even gambling on church grounds.
Senior Roman Catholic cleric Monsignor Vincent Blackett cannot be faulted when he disclosed that the rowdy behaviour was pushing St Patrick’s Cathedral towards rethinking a long-standing policy on facilitating funerals for non-Catholics, especially if the services were likely to attract persons associated with such coarse and ungodly conduct.
Even more appalling at the gun-at-the-graveside scene was the fact that youngsters –– seen in the video widely circulated by smartphone –– were able to make off with the accidently dropped weapon after it was picked up by a Defence Force officer from whom it was snatched. And all this among a crowd of adults.
We earnestly hope that this was not an occasion of turning a blind eye.
There are far too many illegal guns on our streets resulting in unnecessary bloodshed. Truth be told, there ought to be no illegal guns at all.
As a nation, we cannot stare in silence. Every citizen must take a stand against wrong to protect not only their lives, but those of their families, their friends, their neighbours. We cannot afford to encourage or harbour criminals, neither can we allow them to desecrate our institutions that uphold the moral fibre of our society.
No doubt we all hope that the 14 per cent hike in crime will rise no further; but it can only decline when adults arrest their own actions that give the slightest impetus to lawlessness –– and possibly more death.