National Security Minister Michael Weeks pledges to ‘turn the tide on gangs’ – The Royal Gazette
Updated: June 23, 2022 10:57
Michael Weeks, Minister of National Security (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
The National Security Minister has pledged to “turn the tide on gangs” and “close borders to drugs and guns” by launching a series of Progressive Labor Party monthly town hall meetings on communal violence.
Michael Weeks, who was appointed minister on April 4, said he would review proposals to ban the use of tinted visors on hard hats – which have been implicated in a series of crimes – and look for more options stringent in the fight against drink-driving.
Last night, Mr Weeks told a gathering of around 50 community members at Bailey’s Bay Cricket Club that he was aiming to get tougher on ‘violence, drug trafficking and drug-related activities , particularly targeting high-crime neighborhoods.
“We know that we do not manufacture or manufacture firearms. They get into our 22 square miles one way or another.
“What I intend to do, and we are in the process of doing it, is to formulate a multi-application task force of police, customs, coastguard, which will take care of our points entry and will begin equipping them hopefully 24-Sept.”
The MP for Pembroke East Central said an ‘active police presence’ needed to be strengthened in areas where residents ‘live in fear’. He added that it would be done “one neighborhood at a time”.
Mr Weeks, who took over the National Security portfolio from former minister Renée Ming just over ten weeks ago, told the meeting that there had been three killings on the island since he had started to work.
He added that one victim, Laje Franklin, was found shot dead on Clearwater Beach in St David’s the day after he was nominated.
Mr Weeks said police believed there were 200 to 250 gang members on the island, who should not be allowed to “control the majority”.
“I will not allow 250 people to hold this island hostage.
“As long as I’m sitting in this seat, I intend to stand up and fight back.”
Leroy Bean on Outreach Programs to Tackle the Roots of Antisocial Violence
Leroy Bean gave numbers on the Gang Violence Reduction Team’s case management, mentorship and outreach to at-risk people aged 18-35, saying there were 20-30 meetings “monthly” with agencies ranging from Workforce Development and Financial Aid to Children’s Ministry. and Family Services.
Mr Bean said the team went to court daily and pleaded 15 to 20 times a month for clients who broke the law, helping to negotiate community service for those who could not afford to pay almonds.
He insisted that schools “are the recruiting ground” for young people who slip into the gang lifestyle and said the team maintains a constant presence in schools to counter it.
He added that the team conducts “restorative justice within schools, with parents and, at times, with groups that are in rivalry.”
Mr Bean said it was crucial to connect young people to work of any kind and urged anyone able to help him to call him on 799-7972.
He appeared with Leroy Bean, the pastor and coordinator of the Gang Violence Reduction Taskforce, whose last contract with the government runs until August.
Mr Weeks warned the instigators of the violence that they had to choose between “reparation or incarceration”, but promised support and incentives for gang members to become “law-abiding members of the society”.
“It’s not just about enforcement. I want to emphasize that. You all have a role to play.
Mr Bean gave a series of figures on the task force’s work in schools and the number of people it has dealt with.
Although the body has three full-time members, he said his crisis response team could expand to 50 or 60 workers.
Mr Bean warned that ‘every cause has an effect’ and ‘where you come from influences everything’. He said young people need to break free from a mindset that allows their environment to dictate their behavior.
“If we don’t get to those roots, this particular phenomenon will repeat itself every time a generation starts to rise,” he said.