Nip it in the bud

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During the lockdown and the restrictions occasioned by the Covid pandemic, we experienced a drop in crime. Seems however, that our good fortune has run its course. Much like parasites crawling out of the woodwork, those who wouldst prey on the good citizens of this fair State are back at their predatory ways. Crime has inched back up, rather alarmingly, and it appears as though the hoodlums have become even more brazen and deadly. We’re talking about a spate of robberies at gunpoint, in broad daylight, in the heart of St.John’s, nonetheless. It is not an overstatement to suggest that the citizenry is quite apprehensive.

And we are demanding that serious, concrete steps be taken to stamp out this disturbing trend before it is too late. Our regular columnist, Makeda Mikael, in a thoughtful piece entitled A HUNGRY MAN IS AN ANGRY MAN in today’s DAILY OBSERVER, posits, “Antigua is heading in the Jamaica direction fast . . .,”and that is not good news.

It is with that in mind that we are calling on law enforcement to redouble its efforts in bringing the perpetrators of these heinous crimes to swift and sure justice. If you recall, Jamaica still struggles with its image as a gunman’s paradise, and this has had a negative effect on its otherwise robust tourism product. With the proliferation of social media and other news outlets, word of a spurt in crime here in Antigua and Barbuda, especially those of the brazen, daylight variety, could quickly spread to our major tourism source markets. Again, that is not good news.

Of course, one of the most worrisome aspects of this crime wave is that guns are playing a major role in the robberies. The law of averages suggests that it will only be a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt, or heaven forbid, killed in these armed heists. Remember, in many of these cases, the robbers are perhaps just as skittish and nervous as are the victims, and the slightest provocation or hesitancy on the part of the victims could trigger a deadly response from the bandits. And yes, accidents can happen.

Clearly, there are too many guns on the streets of our fair State. And we are calling on the authorities to do something in having them removed as a matter of utmost urgency. We are suggesting that police offer a no-questions-asked gun buyback program, as well as a gun turn-in program. Think, a gun amnesty. We are also suggesting that police carry out periodic stop-and-searches of vehicles that may be carrying guns. The rewards for information leading to the arrest of those who have been involved in these assaults on our sense of security should also be raised. We suspect that many of these bandits have partners and family members who are none-too-pleased with their nefarious activities, and a goodly reward could be the straw that persuades them to speak with law enforcement.

Of course, the police must continue to swamp high crime areas with a visible presence. They must continue to foster good relations with the good citizens in many of these neighbourhoods. Remember, in many ways, we will have to be the eyes and ears of the law. In that regard, we are urging those who may have seen or heard something, or know something, to say something. Public service announcements, as well as posters in public areas, from the authorities could also be quite helpful in persuading those who know something to say something.  It is the right thing to do. We must needs be partners with law enforcement.

We certainly wish our Commissioner of Police, Mr Attlee Rodney, and his entire team, all the very best in stamping out this scourge. We here at NEWSCO will offer any support that he may deem helpful. After all, we’re in this together.

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