The resolution to our crime situation should be the collaborative efforts of our community including the Governor, the Government, the Police Department and our residents. The Crime Situation in TCI is out of hand and must be seriously addressed. It will require a significant increase in our Government budget as well as our personal budget to combat this.
I am aware that the Government has to meet certain financial criteria in order to get a good credit rating but if we do not invest more money in crime initiatives and prevention then everything that we are trying to maintain can be taken away from us in the blink of eye.
Before I proceed any further, let me take this opportunity to offer condolences to all family members that had to face the loss of a loved one as a result of crime.
1. The Role of the Church plays a very significant role in the prevention of crime in any society. One of the roles of the church is to teach the word of God to individuals. In this way, they will be grounded in the word of God and do as the word of God says. Unfortunately, nowadays many people are questioning the existence of God. We find a lot of us spend so much time focusing on the pastors rather than the word of God. We also observe that there is a decline in the number of individuals coming to church. Because they are not going to church, parents and their children are not being feed the word of God and as a result they are committing crimes which are contrary to the word of God. There is no fear of God. If there was fear of God, these heinous crimes would not take place. We need to encourage and promote the attendance of church and bible study. One way to do so is through witnessing. Once individuals realize the importance of the church, I believe that the importance of honesty, love and great values will be instilled in families.
2. More Police Officers, More Vehicles and Patrol the Communities – We need to recruit additional experienced police officers to help resolve the crime situation in TCI. The Police Force in my opinion is understaffed. Once we are able to get these additional officers, we will also need additional vehicles. With these resources, we should be able to patrol the communities throughout TCI on a daily consistent basis. The police officers’ presence should be visible and should be at different times throughout the day so the criminals will not be able to predict when the police will be around. The police presence should deter criminals.
3. Mandatory Electronic Fingerprints – It appears that one of the challenges in resolving crime is the lack of evidence. Then we need to make it mandatory that everyone that resides in TCI must have their fingerprints taken. Of course, there will be a challenge with the illegal immigrants but when we get them, we need to fingerprint them as well.
4. Community Neighbourhood Watch – Neighbourhood watches should be implemented in every community in TCI. I find it very useful in the community that my family and I live. We are all on a group chat and we keep each other abreast of any suspicious individuals or cars in our community. I would also suggest that all the Heads of the Neighbourhood Watches collaborate and share ideas. I wish this can be mandatory but not sure how we can do that.
5. Stiffer Penalties for Crimes and Illegal Guns – Perhaps we are too lenient on crimes and illegal guns in our country. Maybe we can deter persons from committing these crimes by making the penalties stiffer and harsher especially if they are found with illegal weapons and drugs.
6. Undercover Cops – I believe that a lot of persons even the police may know who are committing these crimes but it is challenge in proving it. Therefore, the best way to get around this is to recruit undercover cops and have them infiltrate the gangs and the communities where these crimes are being done.
7. After School Intervention Programs – Many people believe that our young people are idle. Some are also joining gangs for various reasons. We cannot lose our next generation and so this requires significant intervention programs. We can have programs after school to cater to our young people. I know we have a youth center that is very active in the community but I think we need more intervention programs. We need to identify those persons in the gangs and provide help. We also need to ensure we reach out to those young people who have not join a gang so we can prevent them from joining.
8. Random Checks of Homes and Vehicle for illegal guns – I am not sure how effective random checks are because as soon as the word spreads that the police are checking homes and vehicles, people will hide their weapons. However, I still think we need to do random checks on homes and vehicles if this is legal. These random checks need to be done simultaneously in different communities.
9. Rehabilitation Programmes for Offenders – It appears many times the crimes are committed by repeated offenders. They are placed in prison and then release and then commit another crime again. I know I mentioned that we should make the penalties stiffer but we must also at the same time institute a rehabilitation program for these offenders. Perhaps there are rehabilitation programs already in place but I cannot confirm. Even if there are, we need to strengthen the programs.
10. Rotate the Police Officers frequently – For obvious reasons, I believe the Police Officers need to be rotated frequently. They should not be on the same island or in the same position very long. We have a number of police officers who are expatriates. If we bring them in for 2 years, do not let them exceed their 2-year contract. Keep rotating them. Familiarity breeds contempt. I am not against expatriate police officers as local police officers also are familiar with everyone but the local police officers have no where else to go unless we do an exchange program with other countries.
11. Cameras in Your Home and Business – As residents, we will also have to invest some of our personal funds in equipping our homes and businesses with surveillance cameras. As I recall, the TCIG has either waived or reduce the duty rate on surveillance cameras for the home and business.
12. Patrol the Waters – Many believed that illegal guns are infiltration our community through the illegal sloops that enter our country. I know that we have a radar system but TCIG need to invest in more boats and drones so that illegal sloops can be detected early. These boats must be checked for illegal weapons and the individuals should get a heavy fine. I know that the TCIG is seeking to get the assistance of the Bahamas which will be great help as well.
13. Safety Net Safe City – E Jay Saunders, a proud Turks and Caicos Islander has designed a technology software that will help solve crimes and save lives. The name of this is Saftey Net City.
SafetyNet Safe City’s Facial Search tool is designed to enable law enforcement to identify “multiple persons-of-interest against a collection of millions of facial images from our ever-growing high-risk database in near real-time”.
E J ‘s company DSS is willing to absorb the installation costs and waive the 1st year fees if the Government is interested in it.
I sincerely believe that crime can be reduced in our country. It will require all of us to play our part. However, the Government will have to be very serious and increase the budget to address some of the initiatives above. In addition, it will require them to change legislation to make it undesirable for someone to commit a crime. I also want to take this opportunity again to congratulate E J Saunders on the design and development of Saftey Net Safe City software, a Turks and Caicos product.