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Security experts share ideas to stem gun violence

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

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ST JAMES, Jamaica (JIS) — Security experts attending the five-day conference of the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police (ACCP) held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Rose Hall, St James, have shared ideas about stemming gun violence in the Caribbean.

The presentations and recommendations were made during a panel discussion with Deputy Commissioner of Police, Crime and Security Portfolio, Jamaica Constabulary Force, Selvin Hay; Port Director, Miami International Airport, US Customs and Border Protection, Christopher Maston; Executive Director of the Regional Security System, Navy Captain Errington Shurland; and Assistant Commissioner of Police in Trinidad and Tobago, Jacob McDonald.

Hay said the magnitude of the problem that faces the Caribbean cannot be dealt with in isolation.

He said several key approaches and methods utilised by each island police force to minimise gun violence were discussed, and there was a consensus among the member states that information exchange and cooperation on initiatives, including the marking and tracing of weapons and the identification of criminal transit routes, were necessary.

“In order to reduce gun violence, the points of entry will be a focus to cut off additional weapons from entering. The flow of high-powered weaponry from the United States to the Caribbean intensifies the soaring rates of gun-related violence in the region, so we will be networking to strengthen our borders,” Hay said.

“The criminals are working together, so the police in the region will be working together to implement a regional security framework. This will be guided by the principle of shared responsibility to intensify our efforts to combat the illegal trafficking of weapons, which should result in reducing the gun flow and violence at the community level,” he added.

For his part, Shurland said in order to significantly reduce gun crimes in the region, control efforts need to be accompanied by strategies to arrest and convict members of armed gangs, and greater effort is needed to tackle corruption and improve the effectiveness of the security and judicial institutions.

He noted that the underlying conditions that influence the decisions of criminals to act, such as poverty, inequality and lack of opportunity in deprived communities, must be a priority area for social development agencies.

“To get this gun violence issue under control, the adoption and implementation of the modern and harmonised legislation and policies to address the issue of the importation of weapons is key. The CARICOM region is currently implementing the Advance Cargo Information System (ACIS), whereby an additional collaborative regional resource would be applying a risk-based targeted approach to stop the cargoes that transport guns into the respective member states. This is inclusive of maritime freight, aviation and express delivery services such as DHL and FedEx,” Shurland said.

He further explained that the Regional Integrated Ballistic Information Network (RIBIN) was established to prevent weapons from moving across individual countries and the wider region, and urged member states to utilise its resources to tackle the gun crimes in the individual countries.

Another recommendation made by the captain was the identification and funding of national and regional studies to provide empirical evidence for the formulation of policies and intervention programmes.

“We must also enhance our social-intervention programmes that address the at-risk youth population and support the development of public education programmes to de-stigmatise persons that are sentenced, to aid in rehabilitation of the offenders and reintegration,” he said.

Meanwhile, Maston said the proliferation of illegal small arms threatens the ability of Caribbean states to meet real development.

He said US Border Patrol has implemented marking and tracing of firearms to help locate where the weapons originate.

Maston recommended that the authorities commit more resources at the border to strengthen the security of obvious entry points.

“Having a clear understanding of what we are up against and information from local investigation puts us in a better place to assist with gun traffic, which leads to increased possibilities of gun violence. So, it is important that we work together, especially with the regional representatives, to ensure that borders are protected,” he said.

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