This is according to police inspector in the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, Patrick Harewood, who also noted that there are officers from the United Kingdom in the territory who have been hired to focus mainly on the unsolved murders.
During a panel discussion on the “Virgin Islands Dirty Little Secrets,” which was held on Sunday evening, Harewood revealed to residents that there is a continuing effort on the part of the police to solve these murders.
The inspector was, at the time, responding to questions from the residents as it relates to the murders in the BVI.
He said, “We recently had the arrest of a young man over the shooting death of Tiger [Daren Hodge]… But there is a continued effort on the part of the police. As you know, we have an investigative team that came down from England to look at the unsolved murders and the backlog, and they have been given a special task, along with help from local officers, to pay specific attention to these murders.”
Harewood also revealed that, although the police know who the perpetrators are of some of the murders, the police cannot arrest them, due to the lack of evidence.
“What usually happens in this case; we do have ideas of the persons who are responsible for the murders, but we cannot be too hasty to just have an arrest,” Harewood said.
He added, “And then to find out that we don’t have sufficient evidence to actually go before the court and win that case. Because you know once you go before the court and that person is found not guilty, we will be criticized for being too presumptuous in our efforts. So some investigations take some time, and it depends on the support that we get from the members of the community who in most cases do have an idea who is responsible.”
According to the inspector, the fact remains that when police do a crime-pattern analysis of crimes throughout the territory, the situation with crime is concerning, but it’s not the worst, since the territory does not have incidents of random violence, kidnapping for ransom, incidents of stalking and random rape, or routine attacks on witnesses.
“It is obvious, however, that crime in other areas is increasing and alarming as it relates to burglaries, theft, domestic violence, violence in general, sexual molestation, youth violence and crime, and the list goes on and on. The big question that we should be asking ourselves is how did we get from where we were to where we are now,” he said.
Harewood noted that when someone looks at the history of crime in the territory, it is easy to blame it on the tourist dollar following tourism and economic development since 1970. However, he added that, realistically, many parents who came up through the 60s, 70s and 80s became complacent and less concerned about the crime the territory was experiencing at the time.
He said only until the double murders in Sage Mountain in 1992, followed by 13 armed robberies in the latter part of that year until the beginning of 1993, did residents become concerned.
Harewood said swift and strong actions by the police and the community were taken then to address whatever broken windows needed fixing, and as a result the territory did not experience any serious firearms-related incidents or murder for a period of five years from 1993-1998.
“Our major problems with incidents of murder, started after the shooting deaths of Eaun Watkins and Jason Bally in 1999. Those incidents followed with a string of firearms-related incidents leaving over 32 persons murdered. After the highest murder incidents in 2008 with 8 reported incidents, we have begun to see a decrease to two, but even two are too many,” he said.
Some of those incidents, he said, were not gang related, although the BVI was already experiencing gangs such as the ‘Sudan Posse,’ ‘the Boys from the Country,’ ‘Rasville Posse,’ and the ‘Lower Estate Posse.’
“Those were not the typical posses fighting over the territorial bounders… or posses driven to rob and commit acts of murder,” he said.
The inspector noted that, in today’s society with advanced technology and so forth, children are getting what they want, and this should not be the case. He explained that children should learn some of the same rules that their parents learned whilst growing up — carrying out house chores; for example, washing the dishes and cleaning the room.
“And when they [children] do that then they can have things that they need, but what is happening now is that children are getting things — whatever they ask for…. We are in the information technology age; young people are driven with the desire to have everything that they see, particularly on BET; even though BET has a lot of wonderful things going, it also had some things not necessarily good for our children,” he said.
In giving statistics to the residents, Harewood revealed that, in 2010, there were 37 incidents of robbery in the territory, when compared to 41 robberies in 2011. As it relates to burglary, there were 405 cases in 2010 and 465 in 2011. According to the police inspector, over 70 percent of the perpetrators were young people between the ages of 14 and 25.
According to the inspector, the problem that the police force is experiencing has to do with a steady increase in burglaries, thefts and occasional robberies. He said that these incidents are usually committed by young people between the ages of 14 and 25, where a disconcerting percentage of those young people have been found to be involved in either one of seven new gangs on the block, such as ‘The Crips,’ ‘The Bloods,’ ‘Brave Heart Soldiers,’ ‘Squad Up,’ ‘Lower Estate,’ ‘Purcell Estate,’ and ‘The Black Shirt Gang,’ out of Baugher’s Bay.
“Over a period of time, we have discovered that some of those gang members were operating in twos, sometimes in groups depending on the type of violence (particularly gang fights with rivals) or to settle a score in support of one or two gang members, resulting in what we believe to be a few gang – related murders or incidents of shootings,” Harewood said.
He explained that some gang members were being influenced by foreign gangs, which were coming into the territory from other Caribbean countries to commit serious crimes. According to Harewood, some of those gang members have also been arrested for incidents of robbery, burglary, theft and possession of drugs and firearms.