The New Today

Commentary

Hats off to the RGPF

The certainty of being caught is a vastly more powerful deterrent to crime than draconian punishment. The quick arrest and charge of three persons allegedly involved in the murders of Shane Brown and Von Wangy Cyrus by officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) should be commended.

This is a clear indication that the police have begun to step up to the plate after the debacle surrounding the heinous rape and murder of the American couple.

In the professional manner in which the investigations were carried out, the police never showed their hand to the public. Instead, they stood stead-fast to the task, never wavering.

Citizens should show appreciation to the efforts of Superintendent Esau Pierre and Assistant Superintendent Ryan Hall and the team of detectives at the CID who worked diligently on the case. Their efforts should not be taken lightly because police deter crime by increasing the perception that criminals will be caught and punished.

The investigative arm of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) has risen to the challenge and the Police High Command must now move to change the operational tempo of the force and strengthen crime suppression efforts to arrest the recent surge in criminal activities.

There is need for the establishment of a special task force to focus on the illegal gun trade, foreign criminals, as well as those locally and traversing the island, and criminal hot spots and gangs.

The work of the task force should be driven by a criminal intelligence unit to gather information on the focused activities. All this should be done within the framework of a stratified policing strategy to address the immediate, short-term, and long-term patterns of the current crime surge.

This strategy identifies clear roles and responsibilities for all personnel and departments in the crime prevention effort.

The results of the investigations into the three recent murders suggest that the last two were mastermind from behind the prison walls allegedly by the high-risk prisoner. The die was cast with the burning of the boat of one of the remanded killers. However, it is evident that the true motive was to get rid of the Carenage Don.

The involvement of the shooter from Vince is tied up with the death of the Don from St. Vincent, who was killed last year in Grenada and the high-risk prisoner network of criminal contacts in St. Vincent.

If intelligence intercepts from the prison were done in a timely manner and the RGPF had proper intelligence on criminals from neighbouring countries who are domiciled and or traverse through the country on a regular basis, these two murders would likely not have happened.

The first murder of Arthur Braveboy was essentially a case of a conflict between two individuals that started as an altercation at a show in the stadium car park some weeks before the fatal incident.

The brother of the person remanded for the murder had a run-in with one known as Jabar. The night of the fatal incident, Jabar influenced his friend to go along with him to deal with the brother of the murder accused whom he had the incident with at the stadium. That escalated to the wounding of the guy whom Jabar had the altercation with.

These recent killings have to be seen in the context of the gun trade and resultant easy access to guns, the involvement of foreign criminals from neighbouring countries and influence of the violent lyrics of the Trinidad genre of dancehall music as well as the worsening psychosocial environment many of our young people are living in that are driving the callous depravity.

Although the investigative arm of the RGPF has stepped up to the plate, the force needs to do more to suppress crime. The recent massive raid in Mt Rich by a taskforce like team of officers from different departments must also be commended since it’s a step in the right direction.

However, more needs to be done. The RGPF needs to strengthen its intelligence gathering capabilities by incorporating technology like drones and close circuit cameras and increase the number of officers trained in intelligence gathering and analysts to ensure these crime suppression operations are effective.

As the RGPF has begun to play its part, the government must step up as well to provide sufficient resources to increase manpower, refurbish, and build new police stations, provide better equipment such as larger patrol vessels and radar systems to plug the holes in our borders, and more vehicles and bullet proof vests for officers.

Arthur Braveboy, who had recently engaged his fiancé and was turning his life around, decided to put peace by going to speak to the victim when he was pounced on and killed by his brother whom it is alleged is obsessed with the violent Lyrics of the TriniBad Genre of dance hall music and guns.

As was said earlier, police deter crime by increasing the perception that criminals will be caught and punished. It is the certainty of being caught that deters a person from committing crime, not the fear of punishment or the severity of punishment.

Effective policing that leads to swift arrest, successful prosecution of criminals, and proportionate punishment should be a key strategy to reverse the current situation.

The government must also move to strengthen the prison service by increasing manpower, providing more training and equipment to officers, installation of modern technology such as cell phone jammers and close circuit cameras and building a new prison where effective rehabilitation and reintegration programs could be conducted should be a priority.

Prisons are good for punishing and keeping criminals off the street. However, if the conditions are not adequate, it may have the opposite effect. Inmates learn how to commit more deadly crimes from each other, and prison can become a cesspool for breeding dangerous criminals and provide the opportunity to build criminal networks and enterprises.

The recent successes of the RGPF suggest that all is not lost. Although there are issues at the Executive level, there are still a good few men at the Commander’s level like Superintendent Esau Pierre and Assistant Superintendent Ryan Hall and their team of skilled detectives, who are committed and capable of taking the fight to the criminals.

They must be given the resources and equipment to do so since there is still a lot to be done. The killers of the Don from St. Vincent are yet to be apprehended, and they must get those who ordered and masterminded the killing of Shane Brown and Von Wangy Cyrus.

The recent acquittal of two murder accused in the court reinforces the need for thorough investigations and stronger evidence gathering during the investigative process.

The Police High Command should be aware that there are entrenched gangs in Mt Rich, Paraclete, Mt Horne, and communities around Davie that have very strong links to the criminals in St. Vincent and are responsible for a sizable share of the guns and drugs trade between the two islands.

These have now formed alliances with those in the south of the island and are lending support to them in their conflict with each other. The police must use effective crime suppression methods to crush these groups in the north as well.

The use of mass incarceration and the criminal justice system as a primary means of addressing crime would not work. It has not worked in the country with the richest economy and large amounts of resources to build prisons much less Grenada with one little dilapidated prison bursting at its seams.

Cayman Islands have legislated draconian gun legislation similar to what is being proposed for Grenada. Gun laws in Cayman are very strict with mandatory ten years on conviction for possession of an illegal firearm and seven years with a guilty plea.

However, gun related crimes jumped from forty in 2016 to ninety-five in 2022, according to statistics from the Royal Cayman Island Police Service (RCIPS).

Turks and Caicos have similar stringent legislation with a minimum of 12 years jail sentence on conviction for gun-related crimes. However, in twenty nineteen, the island recorded thirteen murders – this has risen to over twenty-eight murders in 2022, many of which are gun-related. This is way higher than the number of murders for Grenada in that year.

The Hon. Prime Minister and the Attorney General needs to be more sober minded and engage in dialogue with a broad cross section of stakeholders to come up with effective solutions to address the emerging crime situation and provide more resources to the RGPF to enable it to continue to step up to the plate and take the fight to the criminals and win.

The recent successes have demonstrated that notwithstanding the previous failures, they are able to do so.

As I listened to the Hon. Prime Minister on the Bubb Report Sunday, I wonder whether he is aware of the crime statistics in Turks and Caicos and Cayman Islands, both countries have similar draconian legislation to what is being proposed by his government.

Special Correspondent