Justice Ministry announces “extraordinary measures”

POSTED: 08/12/15 4:16 PM


Dennis RichardsonMinister Richardson wants to ban bikes, scooters and quads from the city center. Photo contributed.

St. Maarten – Minister of Justice Dennis Richardson extends his heart and prayers to Officer Benjamin and his family and expresses his continued complete support for and solidarity with the police force, the ministry said in a press release that announced immediate measures as a reaction to the shooting..

Just a few short weeks ago on July 17 at the recommendation of management and colleagues at the police force, Minister Richardson provided Officer Benjamin with a token of appreciation in recognition of his outstanding and exemplary service.

The Minister’s first concern Wednesday was to secure the necessary medical attention for Officer Benjamin both locally and abroad, as well as to support the family wherever possible and provide comfort to the clearly distressed colleagues.

Today, the Minister turns his attention to the more general matter of what only can be described as a hardening or increase in the callousness of criminal elements within Sint Maarten society. These criminal elements seem to have turned their guns on Philipsburg, too often we hear of robberies and the invasion of homes.

“Extraordinary measures will now be taken to turn this tide of callous crime, of disrespect for human life and disregard for the foremost pillar of our economy: tourism. This has now become a matter of securing our overall wellbeing, way of life and livelihood,” the press release states.

The Minister of Justice assures the public that these developments have only served to increase the resolve of the police force and all other law enforcement services to continue to do their utmost to serve and protect the public and the island’s visitors through strengthening the cooperation in combatting crime.

The following measures are under consideration and will go into effect as soon as possible:

The twenty present vacancies in the police force will be immediately filled;

In cooperation with the other law enforcement agencies there will be heightened patrols in Philipsburg;

Additional bulletproof vests and other materials are presently ordered to help ensure the personal safety of all police officers;

Legislation and policies will be adapted to ban motorbikes, scooters and quads, the preferred means of transportation of these criminals, from being operated on Front Street, Back Street, Cannegieter Street and all associated side streets;

Pending the completion of aforementioned legal measures the police will establish checkpoints, carry out preventative searches and execute joint controls in cooperation with other law enforcement agencies such as customs and the immigration department;

High value sales points, shops and such which do not take security measures have become a lightning rod for armed robberies, thereby endangering the lives of their personnel, their clients, innocent passing individuals  and of law enforcement officers who rush to their aid. The ministry will research the possibility of the establishing of compulsory security measures that have to be taken by all businesses;

Public-private Partnerships will be pursued and established towards the strengthening of security measures;

As one of the focus points of the aforementioned joint controls the Customs services and the Coast Guard will increase their focus on combating the illegal import of weapons.

Minister Richardson reemphasizes that “shooting at police officers, the very individuals working tirelessly to ensure the safety of citizens and visitors is strongly condemned and will not be tolerated under any circumstances.”

Minister Richardson is confident that the police force is making every possible effort to apprehend those responsible for this heinous act and assures the public that these criminals will be pursued for as long as it takes and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Citizens who may have witnessed the events unfold in Philipsburg on Wednesday or who may have information regarding the possible culprits are requested to contact the police department at 586 80 52.

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