Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The violence must never take root

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IT WAS REASSURING TO hear both Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin speak promptly and resolutely over the weekend about the worrisome upsurge in gun-related violence affecting some districts within Bridgetown.
While this unwanted activity has been restricted to a specific area, such lawlessness must be of concern to all residents of this island.
Violent crime in a small society like ours cannot be ignored, since it has the potential to undermine the entire nation, and can impact us in a myriad of ways.
Weeks before our very important winter tourism season starts, and with the cruise liners already beginning to return in their numbers, we cannot in any way allow this most crucial economic activity to be sabotaged. We also can take no comfort in viewing crime as the preserve of the poor, the less educated, the weak and social outcasts. This island is simply too small not to recognize how criminal activity becomes the problem of us all.
While this upsurge in criminality has been centred on depressed areas within Bridgetown, it still strikes at our precious police resources, especially at a time of the year when these law enforcement officers are stretched with their duties across the island. Additionally, any upsurge in violence sends a negative message and can indeed deter foreign investors, while pushing decent, long-standing and law-abiding residents – who can afford it – to relocate from their old districts.  
The prompt response by the police is heartening, if for no other reason than that our lawmen seem determined not to let the violence spiral out of control and give ideas to other lawless elements that they can follow suit in other areas throughout the island.
We must be swift and firm in our efforts to deal with and stamp out crime across Barbados, and not let the island become a replica of Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia or even St Kitts and Nevis, all of which have alarmingly high levels of crime.
The situation with Caribbean nations now recording high levels of crime did not come overnight, but is now brutal and widespread.
Clearly, the police will have to step up their intelligence work, not only in the troubled New Orleans community, but throughout the island because the availability and use of illegal firearms and drugs must be brought under control.
It also means that the Coast Guard, the Marine Unit of the police and Customs must also be more vigilant in interdicting the traffic of these illegal items since they can undermine the entire society.
Unlike some other nations, Barbados is still capable of maintaining sound law and order. We must give our total support to the law enforcement officials as they deal with any upsurge in criminality.

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