As fear mounts in some communities across Barbados amid an apparent spike in gun crime and other violence that has resulted in death, the island’s top cop is assuring residents there is no need to panic.
Acting Commissioner of Police Erwin Boyce said on Thursday his officers were “on the job” and will make sure citizens are secure, and also disclosed that lawmen were trying to determine whether the recent shootings were connected.
Although acknowledging that there has been a 13 per cent increase in crime so far this year, Boyce was quick to point out that most of those offences were minor, and assured that the Barbados Police Service was working on short and long-term strategies to ensure the crime situation did not get out of hand.
“Yes, there has been some concern in relation to the recent gun exchanges, especially in those areas [directly affected]. One of the things we have done over the years is that we have created a number of strategies. Some strategies are short-term and call for tough law enforcement, some are long-term and call for doing the community health programmes, and another one is long-term and making the community cohesive,” he said.
Boyce added that the constabulary was still working on those strategies and continues to demonstrate a level of response, visibility and law enforcement activity that reflect a “complete package…as we go into the next couple of months”.
“We remain very much on the job and we are very much available to those people in the areas that are affected. Secondly, we always say to people, if you see something, say something. Show us that you are part of the solution and not part of the problem,” the Acting Commissioner of Police stressed.
Boyce said his investigators were trying to determine if the recent spate of shootings had any common links.
“Our investigators and our intel officers are putting all the pieces together so we have a complete assessment of what has happened, whether there are linkages, whether or not there is a silo, whether these are things that are motivated by individuals and not necessarily groups,” he said.
Boyce was speaking on the sidelines of a donation of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) on Thursday.
Several incidents of gunplay and other violent incidents that resulted in death or serious injury have been reported this month.
Two Sundays ago, police were called to two separate shootings that occurred just over four hours apart.
The first one happened at Ferniehurst, Black Rock, St Michael, resulting in injuries to a 25-year-old man and a 36-year-old man, and damage to four houses and four motor cars. In the second incident at Bush Hall Yard Gap, St Michael, a man was critically injured.
Two weeks ago, a passenger onboard a route taxi was stabbed during an altercation involving the conductor and driver as the public service vehicle reached opposite Sheraton Centre Mall. The conductor was also wounded in the melee.
There was also a suspected homicide on May 6. O’Neal Farmer, 40, of Midway Lane, The Pine, St Michael, was found dead on the floor of an establishment at Jordan’s Lane, Nelson Street. Police reports said he had been in an altercation with another man when he sustained several stab wounds about his body.
On Tuesday, 44-year-old Nealson Mason of Bank Hall Cross Road, St Michael was killed during a shootout with police following a car chase that ended at Eagle Hall, St Michael. Three police officers were also injured in the incident.