Stop, Drop & Go (gun surrender) projected extended due to Gonzalo

POSTED: 10/31/14 11:02 AM

St. Maarten – Dutch and French side law enforcement authorities announced on Thursday that the deadline for the Stop, Drop & Go project has been extended from October 31 to November 14, due to the passing of Hurricane Gonzalo, giving persons on both sides of the island who are in possession of illegal firearms an additional 2 weeks to surrender their weapons to the Attorney General’s office.

“Due to the passing of Gonzalo, people are preoccupied with repairing the damages Gonzalo caused, rather than giving in firearms, which is why we decided to give people some more time to deliver their weapons,” explained Minister of Justice Dennis Richardson.

With 50 guns surrendered to the Attorney General’s office, Richardson deemed the project “a success.” He said that even if it is just 1 firearm surrendered during this extension, then it is 1 more firearm off the streets of St. Maarten. Richardson went on to thank the officers who went to the high schools in an effort to bring about awareness and educate youngsters about the dangers of firearms, the community officers and UTS for sending SMSs to the public about the Stop, Drop & Go project.

Saint Martin Prefect Philippe Chopin said that the French side’s Hand in Your Guns project will be extended as well since the project was done in partnership with Dutch side law enforcement authorities. “We are partners, and it is a good partnership,” Chopin said. He disclosed that 6 firearms (4 rifles and 2 guns) had been surrendered to the French law enforcement authorities. Last year’s campaign brought in 6 guns as well. Richardson echoed Chopin’s sentiment on partnership, saying, “Even though there are 2 different administrations, it is one island. The success of the Dutch side is the success of the French side.”

“We need to thank the people of St. Maarten who are helping and making the project a success,” said Attorney General Taco Stein. He added that people, in general, were glad to give up their guns, and in doing so, they make society safer. The 50 guns surrendered were comprised of long rifles, hunting guns, air guns, pellet guns, pistols and revolvers.

Present was Police Public Relations officer Inspector Ricardo Henson who said that the Police Force of St. Maarten is going to upscale during the extension period by opening a tip line. Henson explained that persons can call in anonymously to give police information about persons in the community who are in possession of illegal firearms. The tip line number is 9300. Persons can call between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

On behalf of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Public Prosecutor Tineke Kamps urged everyone to make use to the tip line. To encourage people to call in with information about persons who are in possession of illegal firearms, callers will be given a monetary reward once the information is correct and police officers have confiscated the weapon. Depending on the size of the gun, the reward money will range from NAF 1,000 to 350.

As part of the Stop, Drop & Go project, former Lt. Governor of the Island Territory of Sint Maarten Max Pandt handed in 3 weapons to the Minister of Justice Dennis Richardson on Thursday in the presence of Attorney General Taco Stein, Chief of Police Peter de Witte, Inspector Ricardo Henson and Communication Advisor of the Police Force Mireille Aalders. Pandt told everyone present that the rifle he handed in was used only once for hunting. The other weapon was an old police pistol. He also surrendered a revolver, made in 1895, which belonged to his grandfather. In return, Stein presented Pandt with a Stop, Drop and Go wristband.




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