St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN); “We don’t manufacture guns in this region yet we’re having a lot of guns here; and it’s the ease and access to those firearms that is really creating the issue.”
So says Commissioner of Police Ian Queeley speaking to the issue of increased gun violence in the federation.
St. Kitts and Nevis has recorded 16 homicides so far this year, and 13 of them were gun-related. Some of the killings occurred in broad daylight, in public areas, while bystanders were present.
Commissioner Queeley contends that behind the scene players are the ones getting the guns into the country and making them available to the persons actually committing the shootings and murders.
“We are finding a lot of guns, and so while some persons criticize- and it’s all well and good to criticize- we have so far for the year removed 23 or 24 guns from the streets; we’re only half year. But there’s still a lot, and the thing that bothers me as an individual and as leader of the Police Force, is that there are persons within the society who actually make these guns accessible to these youngsters.
“If you want to be frank, these youngsters cannot on their own afford to be purchasing and bringing in these guns here; so there are players. That is where our intelligence is kicking in and that’s why not only would we continue to do our targeted operations we have to build out our intelligence capability that will capture all of these areas.
“…We also are aware that there are persons in the society who are aware of where these guns are, including parents of their own children.”
The Commissioner said police are actively involved in outreach initiatives in both the high schools and primary schools to help steer the youth away from antisocial behavior and gang involvement.
He stressed that the population can expect to see the Force’s continued aggressive approach to crime fighting as they attempt to get the gun violence in the federation under control.
“We from a policing standpoint would like to see the guns be off the streets of our communities and persons involved in these [gun crimes] and that is why going forward you will see a more aggressive approach- a more aggressive approach is really needed.
“So while we practice hard policing we have to balance it with the soft policing and that is why we have our initiatives in the schools – so it’s a balance of hard and soft policing, but we have to do it if we are to get a grip on what is happening.”