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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bermuda: the Wild, Wild West

Up to five years ago when I arrived on the island of Bermuda, the Island was known for its order, peace, friendly people, tranquility etc. These qualities along with its strategic geographical location made Bermuda the ideal vacation spot and as a result tourist from around the world flocked to the shores of Bermuda to enjoy the relief from life as they know it.

While going through my initiation training (which is required of every foreign trained experienced police officer before they began to practice) the major police concerns at that time were, petty theft, theft of cycles, bladed article and bladed article related offences, the domestic disputes and violence complaint etc. the small stuff and the police self-defense training were basically geared towards confrontation with bladed weapons (knifes, machete, daggers etc.) which were the weapons of choice.

However as of late, the place that was considered the isle of tranquility has experienced a complete metamorphosis. The attitudes and personalities of the citizens have changed drastically. This dramatic change that the island folks (Bermudian) more so the youths have and are experiencing has to do with the young people adoption of the negative aspect of the United States of America culture: the drugs and gang culture which entail:

· Fight for the scarce drug addict clientele

· Securing drug turf.

· Build brutal reputation in order gain respect.

· Instill fear in the law abiding citizen

· Instill fear in the law enforcement agencies.

Today we have seen a small group of the community’s delinquent setting the pace for the majority of the law abiding islanders, the others that call Bermuda home and the tourist that turn to Bermuda as a refuge from their routine lives.

2009 have seen residence developing a heighten sense of insecurity: they are afraid for their life. It seems as if the delinquent youths which are paddled by a selected, small group of the greedy adult population, have lost all sense of order and self-control. With this out of control conduct they have adopted a new weapon of choice unfortunately their new weapon of choice is the firearm and unfortunately they are using this dangerous and deadly weapon indiscriminately.

The year began with a young man opening fire on the police, which is in itself a new high for the Bermudian criminal and a Clare message to the police but more so the law abiding community. Because I have a keen Knowledge of the type of training, the inexperience of the supervisors in the Bermuda Police Service, the attitudes of management, and the courage level of the constabulary, I can declare without fear and with precise accuracy that the community has much to be concern over and afraid of. The above combination is the perfect strew for the criminal community to hold the law abiding community of Bermuda hostage; thus making them prisoners in their own homes and in their own country.

There are other contributing factors that aid the escalation of such crimes and the boldness of the criminal. The slap on the wrist justice system that Bermuda has is indeed created the perfect environment for the escalation of criminality.

Apart from the unwarranted attack on the police there were several incident that occurred on the twenty two (22 SM) square miles island. the shooting of three men on the 26th May 2009, and the retaliation shooting that followed the following Saturday, the July 22nd shooting in the vicinity of the Warwick Camp, the 4th and the 8th August incidents, the September 6th Shooting of a senior citizen, are some of the major gun incident that occurred on the 22 Sq miles island that is Bermuda.

When such devastating events happen in so small a place, it normally ricochets across the island, it reverberates in every home and it impacts every life. This is so because the island is so small that it affects every family or individual in one way or the other. The victim or the perpetrator is either: the friend, relative, acquaintance or is known to the small community. This situation makes the incident more touching and generates a grater level of fear within the community.

What is unfortunate is the fact that the powers that be; be it police administration, politicians, community workers etc. are lost as to how to stem the criminal tides that is washing over Bermuda. Because everyone seems to be lost, the mental stagnation gave rise to the blame game and thus blame is being banged about. This is no time to pass the blame from person to person or from institution to institution, but this is the time to take an honest and critical look the reality of the situation, asked and answer the tough question no matter how unpopular they may be.

I will like to ask one such question now: has Bermuda moral and criminal decline reach to far to make a recovery? I will also like to follow up my initial question with these questions. If not; what will it take to bring the island back to it former state? But most of all is the people ready for or is capable of dealing with the measures that must be taken?

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