St. John’s Antigua- Government has pledged to seek outside assistance to boost the police’s crime fighting capabilities in the wake of Tuesday’s senseless killing of a mother and about a dozen shootings and a string of armed robberies in recent weeks.
Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer made the announcement in a national address last night.
“During this week, I will contact our international partners and discuss the recent developments and request their assistance in providing technical and administrative resources to augment the capabilities of our police force,” PM Spencer said.
However, the nation’s leader did not disclose which partners government intends to approach.
Government is known to have reached out to Scotland Yard and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in the past – as recent as in October 2012 – whenever gun crime spiralled to alarming levels.
Spencer further noted that the government will fast-track the national closed circuit television (CCTV) surveillance programme announced in the 2013 budget.
Although he did not state how exactly that would be executed, he said, “I wish to remind the public that a few months ago, government decided to waive the duty on the importation of CCTV security camera surveillance systems and burglar alarms for residential purposes for the next 12 months.”
Spencer, who told the nation he is distressed by recent developments, also said the government would be relentless in its fight against crime.
He described the incidents, particularly Susan Powell’s killing, as shocking, callous, tragic, regrettable and outrageous.
Powell was shot in the back of the head around 1:15 pm Tuesday while working at First Gadget store located in the usually busy Heritage Quay tourist area.
In early February, cricket entertainer Laban ‘Gravy’ Benjamin was shot in the chest by robbers who ambushed him outside his home. Last week Willikies resident Evinston Joseph was attacked by robbers who shot him in the head, and, over the weekend restaurateur Glen Hector and taxi driver Jawanda Michael were also shot by robbers.
The prime minister said he hoped the “wanton” attacks were not orchestrated “by groups or elements within our society who are bent on creating chaos, insecurity and lawlessness.”
To those individuals, he issued a stern warning, “You will not succeed. Law abiding citizens and residents of this country will not allow you to succeed.”
He stressed that Cabinet fully supports the announcement by National Security Minister Dr Errol Cort that all the necessary legal processes needed to give effect to the death penalty, which is still part of the laws of Antigua & Barbuda, will be utilised.
In closing, the prime minister urged residents to support the police, be more vigilant and report any suspicious activity or information that could help lawmen combat and solve crime.
Residents, he said, should call the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) at 462-3914 or CrimeStoppers at 800-8477 to file their reports.