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EDITORIAL: Reducing gun violence top priority


Editorial

EDITORIAL: Reducing gun violence top priority

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Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite’s announcement last week that there had been a decrease in reported crimes was welcome news. Yet, at the same time, some of the signs would not have been reassuring.

That the Royal Barbados Police Force continues to do an outstanding job must be applauded. It must contend with a level of criminality and sophistication that was unthinkable even a decade ago.

The force clearly does a gallant job in often trying circumstances given the number of crimes that are solved. But, despite these successes, there are areas of major concern. To prove the point, a day after Mr Brathwaite’s rosy picture, the reality of the fear of crime which worries many Barbadians was evident when a drive-by shooting left one man dead and four others injured.

It is this use of firearms in committing crimes which leaves many Barbadians uneasy since they would have watched similar activity in other Caribbean nations escalate to frightening levels. Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and The Bahamas all tell a sad story on gun-related crimes.

This spike in shootings in Barbados indicates why reducing gun violence must be a priority for Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith and his team. How these guns are making their way into the hands of criminals is a matter which officers must resolve as a matter of urgency.

Gun violence affects the society way beyond the shootings. The health care services, the prison system and law enforcement are all impacted as is indeed the reputation of the areas where the shootings occur and the country itself. As a tourist destination, Barbados must always be a safe haven.

There is the feeling that much of our gun crime is tied to the illegal drugs trade. It appears, however, that despite the efforts of law enforcement officers to crack down on this type of illegal activity, they may be fighting a losing battle. Given the ever increasing number of people using and promoting illegal drug usage, it is impossible to arrest our way out of the problem.

We may need to look at our laws relating to drug usage, as hard as it may seem. If the draconian measures aren’t working and only creating a burden on the taxpayer by flooding Dodds prison, we need a new path, and one that will work, such as ordering restitution through our courts to victims of crimes.

We are thankful that every day our lawmen work hard to fulfill their duties to make this a better place to live. Barbadians want to be assured they are safe and secure.

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