A team of representatives from a number of agencies in Barbados visited the Federation last week to examine the success of the current police initiative to curb gang violence.
The representatives came from the offices of the United States Embassy and the British National Crime Agency (NCA) — which are responsible for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean — and the Royal Barbados Police Force.
“When they informed me that they had some success and they had this operation running, I was keen to not only congratulate them on the amazing success that they had, but also to learn and get a deeper understanding as to how exactly the Police Commissioner and the other senior management team [members] managed to deal with this,” Senior Manager with the British National Crime Agency, John Bowman, explained after he was updated about the initiative by the High Command.
The Senior Manager at the NCA disclosed that he was going to share the information he gathered about the initiative with some of his colleagues and other Caribbean countries that the agency supports. Bowman, who has 32 years of experience as a police officer, described the operation as a “new concept” that was “surprising, strategic and tactical.”
“I have to say that even I was surprised at the level of success that they’ve achieved. It’s outstanding,” he added.
He also said that he was impressed by the number of firearms that have been taken into Police custody through the effort.
According to Bowman, his agency has worked with St. Kitts to help tackle the high levels of violent crimes that have been occurring. He said while the NCA was focused primarily on drug trafficking matters, it also helped to support local crime initiatives in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean through technical assistance.
“The [use of] violence and firearms is an epidemic throughout the Eastern Caribbean,” he said. “Most of the islands are suffering with increased levels of violence and firearms-related deaths, so anything we can do to try to assist and support the Caribbean community, we will do so.”
Since February, gangs in the Federation have been involved in a peace initiative with police, who have been engaging gang members during their operations.
With the assistance of the Ministry of National Security and an Interim Engagement Team comprised of representatives from various sectors of society, a strategy was put in place to work to provide levels of support to help members get involved in alternative lifestyles. As a result, there has been a marked decline in the number of homicides and non-fatal shootings for the period March 1- Aug. 26 period.
Members also recently handed over thirty firearms as a sign of commitment to the peace effort. The firearms are now in Police custody.