BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Friday July 21, 2017 – With 19 murders so far this year, 80 per cent of which have involved firearms, the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) has stepped up efforts to rid the streets of illegal firearms.
At a news conference yesterday, Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith accompanied by Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite reported that firearms were used in 15 of the 19 murders committed this year so far.
This compared to 16 of the 22 for all of last year, or 72 per cent of murders.
Admitting the force’s concern with the worrying trend, Griffith announced a significant upgrade for the island’s Anti-Gun Unit.
“We have increased the numbers as well as retooled the personnel and that unit is now performing extremely well . . . to the extent that, with the assistance of TRU [Tactical Response Unit], the SCATS [Suppressing Criminal Activity Targeting Society] Unit as well as the CID [Criminal Investigations Department], we have been able to take some 44 firearms off the streets so far for the year,” he said.
Griffith also served notice that another major strategy to arrest the number of illegal guns entering the country is the RBPF partnering with key agencies.
“We are seeking to have dialogue with our other law enforcement partners at our points of entry to ensure that we can reduce the number of firearms…entering our ports. To do that, we have had some dialogue and we are hoping that we can have joint training in relation to the entities involved so that all of us can be on the same wave length,” the top cop said.
The Police Commissioner however quelled concerns about the nature of the crimes, insisting they were not random but stemmed from retaliatory killings by people involved in the illegal drug trade.
“Murders are being committed among persons that know each other; persons who are often retaliating because of the whole drug situation that exists where narcotics is their turf. Individuals are fighting for turf and as a result there are ongoing feuds. What we are seeing is that many of the deceased persons themselves are perpetrators of similar heinous crimes.”
Griffith however assured that his officers would not be letting down their guard as he announced an increase in stop-and-search exercises.