The following is a statement by His Excellency Nigel Dakin in the recent string of murders:
The Commissioner of Police has made a detailed statement today (March 16) outlining the events of the last five days. The headline is five shootings and three murders.
Two of these murders were entirely innocent victims – one it seems targeted because it was known he would be in possession of a significant amount of money, and was in an isolated place, the other randomly abducted off the street, taken to an ATM, and - having offered no resistance - killed.
It’s hard to find the appropriate words to express one’s heart-felt sympathy to those they leave behind nor utter words of sufficient condemnation to those who took their lives.
One of the victims – shot in Mary Jane Lane – and we await formal identification - is believed to have been one of the most wanted men in TCI, himself wanted for a catalogue of the most violent crimes. There had been a series of pre-planned policing operations closing in on him that included, for example, the operation that involved a helicopter over Blue Hills in the New Year.
He was considered extremely dangerous and Police Officers from our Tactical Unit were prepared to execute warrants, going through doors at night in search of him, believing they would be fired on by him. It seems though he was gunned down by like-minded individuals - by those he had either threatened, intimidated or double crossed - his chosen way of life catching up with him.
Alongside his murder two other youths were shot, although not killed, on Saturday and Sunday. Both were targeted attacks, no other crime involved, and the Police believe both were attacked as an act of revenge.
It’s in the nature of these things that – without intervention - we can expect further retributive killings and so the cycle continues. A very small number of our young men – but a number that has disproportionate impact on all our lives - are choosing a life that in the end sees themselves becoming a victim, just as they once caused others to be victims. Given they spend their lives evading the Police, the Police by definition won’t be there when their past catches up with them. The Police though will be there to secure the crime scene where they fell.
This cannot be the future we want for our young men, who were once young boys with all the hope that childhood brings. Those involved now in gang violence are someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s friend and it is this group - who knows them best - who has to either keep them away from this future, or if they find they are involved, speak out early to literally save them from themselves and certainly to protect the innocent and community whose lives they will blight.
Two years ago the public would have had low confidence that the perpetrators of these murders would face justice. I now have significant confidence that those who committed these murders will be identified and arrested.
The Police’s record of being able to identify and charge those involved in serious crime changed in the early part of last year. The drop-in murder rate in 2021 was directly attributable to this.
It seems those in HMP Grand Turk have now been replaced, and the Police will now do exactly as they did in early 2021, and seek, arrest and charge those who do so much harm.
This change is linked to a set of reforms presently ongoing – laid out in the Police’s strategic plan - and that change is underpinned by strong moral and financial support from this Government, and the last Government, who are delivering year-on-year growth in funding to the Force which allows them to build and also from the UK who are delivering significant training and uplifts in capability which allows them to modernise.
The National Security Council allows the Premier, Commissioner and Governor to work as one and increasingly bring in other Ministries to start to tackle underpinning causes of crime.
As well as an overall growth in Police numbers, with all recruits receiving six months overseas residential training, there’s been significant recent growth in terms of leadership, expertise and numbers in the Criminal Investigation Department; the team with responsibility for collecting and preparing the evidence that leads to conviction. There is also now more targeted and better use of forensics.
The skill of the Tactical Unit has been much enhanced – their courage is boundless- and every night they are engaged in high-risk armed operations led by intelligence. On that the development, training, and growth of an intelligence unit – with considerable UK support - is already paying dividends. There’s further growth to follow in numbers and technical capability.
The Police are also getting back to basics in terms of the roll out of Community Policing. For example, the local member for the House of Assembly’s early and constructive engagement with the Police, over the last five days, a class act in terms of the Police and community representatives seeking to work together.
Last Sunday I was in Church with the Superintendent with overall responsibility for Community Policing, alongside a different locally elected representative, starting a program - that was suggested by citizens - of active collaboration between the Pastors and the Police in terms of community outreach.
Next week I will be in the UK twinning our Force with the second largest UK Police Force that will bring us not only extra practical support, but also a continuity of support.
On this the Commissioner and I had already commissioned an outside Team to come and review the RTCIPF approach to Serious Crime to ensure the investments that have, and are being made, are being used not only to good effect, but seeking to replicate very best practice.
There is a Force Executive Team who are leading by example – the Commissioner was personally at the crime scene last night and a set of promotions that rewarded those who are actively engaging in this change program have been announced and will have an impact in terms of leadership throughout the Force.
I increasingly witness, first-hand, the motivation and commitment our Police bring - as individuals who live in the community that this violent crime threatens. Over a similar period, a few weeks ago the Police were, for example, involved in a full range of arrests from pre-planned special policing operations, through to off-duty officers apprehending an individual who had discharged a weapon, through to the interception of a vehicle with the occupants caught red handed with stolen goods and weapons.
Over the last two years I’ve also witnessed a shift in the public’s approach. We know more than we once did - some through formal intelligence work and some through tip-offs from active engaged citizens. The Police now receive more information than they once did and that information – not evidence admissible in Court – is proving invaluable. The Police can now manage this information securely – hence the arrests that have been achieved - without any blow-back on those who have played their part.
The arrest of a 17-year-old with a gun some weeks ago is though emblematic of the problem. However much we invest in the Police this is a problem that simply risks replicating. Keeping our young men beyond the influence of a small number of very bad men – bad men who must be identified, arrested and put before the courts - is something we can all take responsibility for.
But in this moment – if you have any information - however small – however irrelevant or unimportant you believe it is – please call +1 800 8477 and anonymously tell the Crime Stopper Team in Miami Dade what you know.
They’ll make sure a secure unit in our Police get to know the facts, but not your identity, because they will not know it and cannot discover it.
Since 1981 – and remembering they cover a significant geographic area in Florida and the Caribbean – ‘Crime Stoppers’ have received over 78,000 tips, that have resulted in over 11,000 arrests without a single compromise.
If these figures don’t reassure and if you prefer, tell me, tell a Police Officer you trust, tell your Pastor, tell your teacher or someone you know has the integrity to do the right thing. But the key point is – if you have information – tell someone; you will be saving a life.