An increase in gang-related murders in Western Division, has led to seniors giving the division’s Inspector (Crime) their approval to hold talks with warring gangsters and tell them to behave. As of yesterday, 37 murders were committed in the division as compared to 28 for the corresponding period last year.
Insp Godfrey Vincent told Newsday gang-related murders were of concern to him and he had discussed the issue with ACPs Radcliffe Boxhill and Irwin Hackshaw. Recommendations were made to the two senior officers which centred on holding meetings with warring gang members, but not negotiating with them.
The first group was those in control of Dibe. The gangsters were told they could settle differences amicably without the loss of lives. Vincent said after these talks, gang-related shootings and murders stopped. Vincent said he and his team were now focusing on Simeon Road in Petit Valley, where there had been an upsurge in gang-related violence.
“Elders in the community approached me with a view to mediating peace among warring gangs. There are two gangs, one from Petit Valley and the other one close to Sparrow’s Hideaway.” Vincent said police would meet with the two shortly. “A date has to be set and although we have to be firm with these people, saving lives and dealing with crime are our major priorities.”
“What we tell these gang leaders is the approach they are taking is non-productive and there are other avenues to settle their differences. I want to make it clear we are not negotiating with alleged criminals, we are trying to show them there are other ways to settle differences and our approach does not take away from the fact that the police have a job to do,” Vincent said.
He added that 115 illegal guns were taken off the streets in Western Division so far this year.
Yesterday, Insp Vincent under the supervision of ACPs Boxhill and Hackshaw, arrested 18 people for robberies and other offences. A .38 revolver and several rounds of ammunition were seized.
On Wednesday, during his keynote address to the American Chamber of Commerce’s HSSE conference at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain, Ag Police Commissioner Stephen Williams revealed this country had had no anti-gang legislation in place for over a year. In order to have the legislation passed in Parliament, the Government required support from the Opposition but that had not been forthcoming.
“For a country like ours, with a growing problem of violence, shootings, woundings, murders and an increase in gun-related crimes, we don’t have any laws to deal with gangs. I don’t know if the nation knows that. So in reality, we only talk about (dealing with) gangs but there is nothing actually highlighting any criminal gang in TT. No laws! Every other place in the region has...TT doesn’t.”