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Cablegate: Bermuda: Gangs, Guns, and Crime

VZCZCXRO1311
RR RUEHHT
DE RUEHHT #0149/01 3522121
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 182121Z DEC 09 ZFF4
FM AMCONSUL HAMILTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3940
INFO RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0017
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0912
RUEHHT/AMCONSUL HAMILTON 2117

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HAMILTON 000149

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

USUNNY FOR RSO (T. SEARS AND S EMERS)
STATE FOR EUR/WE (J. MARBURG AND N. ABBASZADEH)
STATE FOR EUR/PPD (L. MCMANIS AND A. PIPKIN)
LONDON FOR R. HUBER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC CASC SOCI
SUBJECT: BERMUDA: GANGS, GUNS, AND CRIME

HAMILTON 00000149 001.8 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary: Crime, in particular gang-related and gun
crime, is increasing on the island. The Consul General met with
the Bermuda Governor on December 16th and Bermuda and its
citizens are uniting together to combat the violent crime
problem. The Government is even considering imposing curfews to
curb the violence. End Summary.

2. (SBU) On the morning of December 17, 2009, a man was
gunned down in Friswells Hill; the third man to be murdered in
13 days. (The other two shootings occurred in Somerset and
Pembroke.) There have been 17 shootings since May when people
have been killed or injured; no discernable pattern or location
is evident. In a country of just over 65,000 persons, people are
rightly concerned of this large increase in gun-crime.

3. (SBU) The official American community is not immune to
the crime increase. One residence experienced a break-in and a
few others reported attempted break-ins this summer. Just
recently, the dependent of an American official was robbed of
his electronics will riding the public bus home from school.

4. (SBU) The Governor indicated to the Consul General
during their December 16th meeting that despite press to the
contrary, government house and the government are on the same
page and united in tackling the growing violent crime problem.
At the swearing in of new Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva on
December 16th, Minister for Home Affairs David Burch publicly
confirmed this. The Governor observed that the new Police
Commissioner and his team were much more interested in overseas
assistance and training. The Governor noted that police would
maintain operational control, but would check with government
and government house on two areas: prioritization and
presentation. In these two areas, the Bermuda Police Service
(BPS) needed the consensus of government and government house.

5. (SBU) The Governor attributed most of the violence to
two gangs - the Park Side gang and the 42nd Street gang.
Assistant Commissioner Paul Wright told the CG that there were
18 gangs active on the island, but most of these gangs were
amorphous and some of them were more akin to neighborhood
groups. Wright noted that the BPS had drawn up an initial list
of 48 Persons of Interest (POI), but that list has shrunk to 38
over the past year, as many have been shot. Wright worried,
however, that if Bermuda did not solve the problem, young
Bermudians could join and the problem could mushroom out of
control.

6. (U) In a grass-roots reaction to the recent escalation
in gang-related shootings, more than 400 people gathered
together at a local primary school on December 9th to discuss
ways to promote gang intervention, faith-based leadership,
community capacity building, national mentoring and youth,
vision and development. An educator and three brothers - one a
former top aid to the premier and another, the head of the
Police media relations office - were the catalysts for the
group, named "We Will Rise Above, Bermuda." A group spokesman
said the community had reached a turning point where average
people recognize the need to work together for change.
Participants, challenged to come up with workable solutions
within 30 days, are considering calling a gang truce and
establishing an underground network of safe houses for gang
members trying to leave.

7. (U) Bermuda police initiated Operation Safer Streets
earlier this year, which resulted in a 60 percent increase in
arrests, an almost 40 percent upturn in drug enforcement
activity, and the number of serious assaults falling by 28
percent since 2008. Police Commissioner DeSilva stated to the
press, "In October we restructured the organization to place 85
percent of our staff directly in the fight against crime. On
patrol, in Criminal Investigation Unit~drug unit and serious
crime unit." He assured that all officers will be on operational
patrols throughout the New Year.


HAMILTON 00000149 002.8 OF 002


8. (SBU) BPS is seeking more help in combating gangs,
crisis management, crime scene examination, forensic pathology,
and close protection. The FBI's Safe Street Gang Unit is coming
to the island in early January to provide training, review
Bermuda's plans and provide analysis in other gang-related
areas. RSO is working with DS/ATA to identify immediate
assistance with regards to VIP Protection training. Further
discussions are underway to determine whether long-term
DS-provided training can be organized.

9. (SBU) Comment: Gang-related violence and petty crime
has increased and is spilling over into the community. American
citizens are not being targeted, however the violence is
occurring in broad daylight and its indiscriminate nature makes
it problematic for residents and tourists alike. Bermuda,
although a country, is also a relatively small community; the
government and its citizens are taking the latest events
seriously. However with tourism and annual revenue down
considerably over the past two years and with no sign of the
economy improving (for example, one in six businesses in St.
George's has closed in the last 18 months), crime will continue
to increase. Hopefully with additional training and resources,
the BPS will be better prepared to tackle the issues at hand.ROSHOLT

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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