Acknowledging the ever-present danger members of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force (RTCIPF) face on a daily basis, government plans to dole out a 10 percent across the board pay raise.
The announcement was made from the Throne at the opening of the parliamentary Year on Monday at the House of Assembly. In addition, government plans to establish several short- medium- and long-term crime-fighting measures to combat the sharp increase in murders and shootings.
“We will give the police a 10-percent across the board increase on basic salary,” according to the government agenda speech, which is as customary was read by the governor.
The government said also that it would be propping up the RTCIPF resources to make them more efficient in fighting crime.
“My government is allocating an additional $4 million for the RTCPF,” the government added, stating that $1.5 million will be used for equipment and additional manpower, $1.5 million to build a hangar for the new surveillance aircraft being donated by the UK government, noting that a recently purchased armoured vehicle is due to arrive in the TCI by October’s end.
Additionally, government is allocating $2 million to purchase and install the latest versions of CCTVs, especially in the hot bed areas, stating also that before the end of the month, critical crime fighting bills will tabled.
Among the bills are the Firearms (Amendment) Bill, the Police Force (Amendment) Bill, the Firearms Related Offences Bill, and the Anti-Gang Bill
The Firearms (Amendment) Bill introduces higher penalties for possession of an unlicensed firearm, a prohibited weapon or ammunition. The Police Force (Amendment) Bill allows the police to stop and search a person or vehicle believed to be linked to criminal activity. It also allows the police to set up roadblocks in high crime areas.
The Firearms Related Offences Bill extends the period of detention for persons accused of murder and firearms offences. The Anti-Gang Bill makes it an offence for a person to become a member of a gang. A first conviction will carry a penalty of ten years in prison and twenty years for any subsequent conviction with enhanced penalties for gang leaders.
Additionally, government is seeking to pass a law that would give a shooter up to 30 years in prison for shooting at and wounding a law enforcement or intelligence individual, also making it a serious offence to coerce or aid another person to become a gang member.
The Anti-Gang Bill will also make it an offence to retaliate against someone who refuses to obey an order from a gang leader or gang member. The law will also make it an offence to knowingly counsel, finance, support or tip off a gang leader, gang member or gang.
The Bills aim to strengthen police powers to investigate, stop and search, detain, break up gang activities, protect law enforcement who fight hardened criminals on the front lines.