Describing the one week gun amnesty as expectedly unsuccessful, police today revealed that 32 illegal firearms and 1,758 rounds of assorted ammunition were handed over by the deadline of midnight on Saturday.
While he did not anticipate a follow up amnesty, Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith told a hurriedly-called news conference this afternoon at the Roebuck Street, Bridgetown headquarters that this one had served its purpose.
Attorney General Dale Marshall earlier warned that after the deadline had passed, all gloves would be off in an all-out effort by the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) to rid the streets of the deadly weapons. The amnesty, which coincided with new legislation introduced by Government to make it more difficult for murder-accused to get bail, was another measure to help strengthen efforts by authorities to address a shocking upsurge in gun-related crime. Guns were used in 12 of the 20 murders so far for the year.
Today, Police Commissioner Griffith said while his force had no illusions the amnesty would be successful, he thought it was the right thing to do as an additional means of supporting the stringent measures in the new Bail Act. He told reporters that the majority of the arms were small calibre weapons which belonged to people who had died.
The weapons displayed today included nine semi-automatic hand guns and four high-powered rifles. The Commissioner said although they were “quite ancient” they were still capable of inflicting injury.
Griffith said the guns had been tested to determine whether they had been used in criminal activity.
“We didn’t anticipate we would have been very successful, but we thought it was the right thing to do,” he said.
“We got some 32 firearms; 1758 rounds of assorted ammunition. Most of the firearms are small calibre weapons. If you look and see the ammunition, you would see they have been around for some time. I think though, that in itself is some success, in that these firearms, I am sure the firearm experts would say, are very capable of firing ammunition and the ammunition that was there,” the top cop said, adding that any ammunition taken off the streets gives less opportunity for someone to be injured as a consequence.
“We had no illusions as to the likelihood of the perpetrators of much of the heinous crime we have had for the first three and a half months of the year turning in those weapons. However, we were supportive of the amnesty, because, like anything else, if you are going to introduce more stringent measures to address the whole question of bail for matters involving firearm usage, then I think it is only fair and reasonable to provide likely perpetrators an opportunity to turn in any such weapons that they might have. So, certainly we did not anticipate we would have been very successful, but we thought it was the right thing to do,” Griffith said.
The top cop then turned his attention to a new all-out attack on taking the illegal guns out of the hands of those behind the recent spate of violent crime and those who are likely to perpetrate future acts.
Without giving away too much, he disclosed that the strategy will be
intelligence-driven and includes the recent acquisition of four new sniffer dogs for the Bridgetown Port.
“We are heightening activity in relation to recovering these firearms and preventing them from entering our porous borders. So I would want to appeal to the public to give us their support in this effort. We need their information. We cannot operate on our own. It is for members of the public to assist us in wrestling this vicious spate of violent crime that we had over the last three and a half months.
“So I am appealing fervently to the public to come onboard and assist us in keeping Barbados the wonderful island it has always been,” the leading cop told reporters.
The police commissioner also said officers would be even more visible, especially at the main ports of entry and at the Port St Charles in St Peter.
“We have also been successful in attaining an additional four canines to use at our Bridgetown Port; and as soon as we get those trained up to the level that we require, they would be put into action. You will see far more police presence and warrants
execution based on intelligence and so on,” Griffith said.
He added that Port St Charles is an area of special attention for the police.
“We have always considered Port St Charles one of the ports that we need to pay special attention to; and that has not changed.
We pay very close attention to Port St Charles. Intelligence still shows though that most of our weapons are coming through our more established ports…the airport and the sea port,” the top cop insisted.
The commissioner also told reporters that overall, police have so far recovered 57 illegal guns so far for the year when those turned in during the amnesty were added. firstname.lastname@example.org