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November 23, 2017


Police and Crime

Date: 14 January 2001

DISMAL POLICE

I write in relation to a recent headline regarding the “dismissal” of police cadets from the re-introduced Police Cadet Programme due to failing grades. I cite the case of the young man, whose mother was quoted as saying that her son was an outstanding student at the Cedarbridge Academy, though it appears his grades were at best mediocre.

If the above is fact, then the local community should be outraged at this travesty. The incident indicates that there are fundamental flaws in the Bermudian education system, an issue that has bounced around the Legislature like a ping-bong ball in the past ten years. In an island as small and as wealthy as Bermuda, there is absolutely no reason why there should be such seemingly low standards of education in the public schools.

Education is an issue where a bipartisan approach is the only logical way forward. Rather than lay blame on the previous administration or the new Government, the parties must work together and reach a consensus on the best way to improve education. In other words it is time to stop treating education as a political issue.

Our young people are the future of Bermuda. If the publicly funded education system is failing our students, then the very future of international business and the income that it generates is at risk. We cannot expect insurance companies and other such businesses to employ Bermudians if they cannot “make the grade” expected by these companies.

It would be wrong and false for the Government and Opposition to ignore the serious and long-term consequences of apparently low standards in our schools. The release by the Bermuda Police of the cadets in the Cadet Programme is merely the tip of the iceberg of a very worrying and potentially devastating problem.


GANGSTA YOUTH

Date: 18 April 2001

Recently an article was published in the Times that described how North London youth from Camden were to be taken to inner city boroughs of New York City to speak to members of “New York’s finest”. This was being done to show the selected White and Asian youth about tolerance and living in harmony with one another.

As it happens there is a bitter “race war” taking place in Camden between White and Asian youth, which sees fourteen and fifteen year old youths being stabbed on a weekly basis. The surroundings in which they live are, at best, barely above what many would consider the poverty line. Meanwhile, the NYPD have managed to control gang violence in certain areas of New York and are now involved in teaching inner city youth about respect for one another. Camden Council felt that perhaps it would open up the eyes of their youth to see racial harmony in action in a major US city.

I hope that readers of this article will take this idea to heart, especially members of the Government. Although Bermuda’s recent “gang violence” stemmed from “territorial disputes” rather than racial intolerance, some of the reasons for the violence are still the same. One reason given by Camden Council for the violence was that of general boredom, a reason I suspect that is similar to the Bermuda gang violence.

I suggest that some of Bermuda’s self-styled “gangsters” be sent to North London, or London’s east end to spend a week in a Council estate to learn what true depravity and poverty is about. Alternatively why not send a “gangster” into the gangland suburbs of L.A. with a local social worker? It is high time that some of our so-called “disenchanted youth” are given a perspective of the outside world rather than living in the cocoon of safety in Bermuda and fantasizing about the warped glamour of gangster life.

There is nothing naïve about this idea. Similar schemes have been tried and tested in London and elsewhere. In L.A. County convicted drunk drivers are taken to the morgue to look at crash victims and watch an autopsy being performed. Perhaps the Government could re-direct some of its recently increased travel budget to Social Services specifically for such a project. I have a feeling that some of our more out-spoken magistrates would agree.

I would personally like to see some of our youth wide-eyed in genuine shock as they walk in the filth of an un-kept London Council housing estate or drug-infested housing project in Washington D.C. Maybe then our Bermudian “gangsters” will realize just how lucky they are to be living in Bermuda. I would even go so far to say they will be disenchanted no more.


"Back of Town Experiences"

Date: 24 May 2000

Recently, after spending a couple of hours out on the town I was most impressed with the police presence on Front Street. It made the area feel safe and protected. This contrasted severely with the lack of police in “the back of town.”

At about 2:15am I decided to travel home via Court Street, mainly to check out the action on that particular road, where there are several bars and a major nightclub. The sidewalks were full on both sides, with youth enjoying themselves. However there was a disturbing smell of marijuana in the air, which was confirmed by the sight of several of the youth sitting on motorcycles smoking joints in plain view of passing motorists. Furthermore a large part of the crowd were indulging in alcoholic beverages in bottles. These bottles were not in bags and were also being consumed in plain view of passing motorists. This blatant disregard for the laws of Bermuda made me feel extremely uncomfortable, accentuated by the curiously missing police presence.

While on Front Street I noticed no fewer than four different (marked) patrol cars in the space of maybe half an hour, driving very slowly and eyeing the crowds. Where was the police presence on Court Street? I drove through the surrounding area for about ten minutes and did not see a single police officer. During this time youth were speeding around the area on bikes, wearing no helmets and with lights turned off. There was no attempt to hide alcohol or put out joints. It was obvious to me that the crowds on Court, Dundonald and Angle Streets knew the police were not going to be patrolling the area, or if they were, no arrests would be made.

The police should not make some pathetic excuse about manpower and staffing problems. The distance between Front Street and Court Street is minimal. What does it take for a drive-by or even better foot patrols by the police? It is clear to me that the police are intimidated by the youth congregating on a Saturday night in the Court Street area. The MP’s representing the constituents of that district should be demanding more, as I am sure the residents of “the back of town” do not appreciate their neighbourhood turning into a pit of drug abuse and law breaking every Saturday night. Perhaps Jean-Jacques Lemay and Maxwell Burgess should tour the area and see for themselves the disgraceful behaviour of the minority of party goers that ruin the colourful area in the early hours of the morning.

This lack of police presence has been an ongoing phenomenon for some time. This was the case while Lenny Edwards was the Commissioner; while Colin Coxall was Commissioner and now while Lemay oversees our Police Service. I do not want the usual racists say that the police patrol Front Street more often to protect the “white businesses.” The fact remains that the police are terrified of the Court Street youth. Black inspectors and duty sergeants oversee black constables who can patrol this black dominated part of town. Furthermore, Maxwell Burgess whose portfolio includes the Police can instruct more officers to patrol the area.

If we are to maintain the high standards that tourists and Bermudians expect, we cannot afford to have perceived no-go zones and a lack of police presence in those zones. This problem must be corrected. Bars and clubs need not be closed, as the area is a prime party spot. Merely have several police waiting outside when the relevant establishments close, to quell any lawbreaking before it starts.




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