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Cablegate: Bermuda: 2009 Worst Year for Arrests, Firearms and Gangs

VZCZCXRO1781
RR RUEHHT
DE RUEHHT #0011 0151947
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 151947Z JAN 10 ZFF4
FM AMCONSUL HAMILTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3963
INFO RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0020
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0930
RUEHHT/AMCONSUL HAMILTON 2141

UNCLAS HAMILTON 000011

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC CASC SOCI BD
SUBJECT: BERMUDA: 2009 WORST YEAR FOR ARRESTS, FIREARMS AND GANGS

REF: A. A) 2009 HAMILTON 149;
B. B) 2009 HAMILTON 101

Summary

1. (SBU) Confirming what residents already know, Police
Commissioner Michael DeSilva revealed that 2009 was the worst
year on record for crimes involving arrests generally and guns
and gangs specifically. There was also a 40 percent jump in the
number of arrests over 2008. However, post now sees a concerted
effort by the Government of Bermuda (GOB) and community groups
to take the steps necessary to get gang violence under control -
and to see what can be done to prevent it. End summary.

"A Massive and Scary Increase" in Gun Activity

2. (U) In a speech to Rotarians on January 12th, new
Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva stated, "We have seen the
worst in Bermuda's history when it comes to firearms incidents."
He cited three confirmed reports and eight unconfirmed
incidents of gunfire so far in 2010. In 2008 there was one
firearms injury, compared to 13 injuries and four fatalities in
2009. DeSilva described it as "a massive and scary increase."
The Commissioner also reported that there were 4,500 arrests in
2009, the highest on record, contrasted to 3,163 arrests in
2008.

Some Gangs Imitate U.S. Gangs

3. (U) DeSilva also disclosed that there are at least 19
gangs, with approximately 350 members between the ages of 12 and
40 who are organized in neighborhood groups. He denied that
there has been a proliferation of guns (which are illegal in
Bermuda), "We actually believe the number of guns are (sic) far
less than urban legend would have us believe." He said that the
gangs involved in the recent shootings share similar
characteristics and behaviours as gangs in the U.S.,
particularly the Bloods and Crips, making the Island's
partnership with the FBI important in terms of providing Bermuda
police officers with gang-specific skills and knowledge. In
response to a request from the Bermuda Police Service, the
Consulate worked with the Legal Attachi to bring FBI trainers to
Bermuda to conduct a gang course for police and prosecutors on
January 4-6.

4. Police Plans Moving Forward

(U) Commissioner DeSilva outlined plans for tackling gun and
gang crime, including selected, targeted enforcement
(intelligence-led deployment of police resources, patrols in hot
spots, community engagement, and full use of legislative search
powers); building criminal conspiracy cases against gangs to
dismantle organizations; improving the quality of investigations
and forensic evidence retrieval; denying criminals use of the
roads; and encouraging the public to provide information. In
addition, U.K. police officers will be seconded to Bermuda to
help, and Bermuda is also looking to the U.S., including the FBI
for further assistance and possibly also the New York Police
Department to provide as-yet undisclosed assistance.

5. Comment: The GOB Determined to End the Violence

(SBU) The Bermuda Police Service (BPS) now has the unqualified
support of the GOB to tackle the increasing violent crime. The
GOB has publicly committed to work closely with the Governor,
who has constitutional authority over internal security. In
contrast, as recently as early December, the GOB was calling for
the Governor to relinquish that power. In addition, the BPS is
seeking and receiving much-needed support and technical advice
from U.S. and U.K. experts, which will enhance local security
efforts. As average Bermudians wonder "what this Island is
coming to," community groups have emerged to rally people to the
cause of non-violence. There is no quick fix; efforts to stem
the violence will require implementation of Commissioner
DeSilva's plans as outlined above, as well as programs to get
Bermuda's disenchanted young, black males out of gangs and back
into the mainstream and to prevent others from entering the gang
culture.
SHELTON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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