THURSDAY, MAY 3: Teams of street mediators will target the ‘shot callers’ in Bermuda’s gangs to end the cycle of violence.
They will also reach out to the gang leaders who are behind bars to prevent further clashes between rival groups.
Today National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief revealed that there were around 400 gang members in Bermuda.
He said: “Police have numbers which suggest there could be as many as 300 at the low levels as young as 14 years old.
“There are around 70 in the next band up.
“And above that there are no more than 20.
“These are the ones we are targeting, those at the top level.
“And when I say targeting I mean reaching out to.”
Mr Perinchief said that Bermuda’s approach to mediation had been modelled on Boston’s Street Safe initiative.
And he told media that his department was working with the local gang-intervention CARTEL, which is run by Pastor Leroy Bean.
Mr Perinchief added: “Street Safe deploys street workers into the most violent gangs to build relationships with key players, mediate conflicts and interrupt violence among at-risk youth and gangs.
“Bermuda’s Street Safe has been devised in a collaborative effort with significant contributions from professionals within the Ministry of Youth, Families and Sports.
“The recommended structure is to implement a special project under the Ministry of National Security HQ with an initial two-year commitment, managed locally with a lead professional reporting directly to the Minister and Secretary for National Security.
“This lead coordinator has been identified and will be accountable for the oversight of the initiative generally and for the management of the street-level entity to be tasked with day to day handling of the gang mediation volunteers.”
Mr Perinchief said that while mediation had already begun, he hoped that Street Safe would be officially up and running in Bermuda by the end of June.
He said that the anti-gang initiative had been financed by realigning his department’s budgetary priorities.
The Minister added: “This is targeted and focused work.
“The individuals identified to do this work deliberately do not share the podium with me today.
“This is street level, community engagement activity and a profile outside of the “street” can be a hindrance to the success of the initiative.
“The men and women who will be engaged in this will be on the front line, promoting social cohesion in our country.”