TUESDAY, DEC. 8: The murder of Kumi Harford in the early hours of December 5 should reinforce the tragic reality of Bermuda's increasing gun violence, according to police.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Wright said: "Mr. Harford is the latest victim of the escalation of violence which appears to be gang related. But gun crime statistics and concerns about whether or not it is all the result of inter-gang violence do not adequately convey the human tragedy and the impact that the callous actions of a few violent offenders have on the community as a whole. Mr. Harford was a young man cut down in the prime of his life. He was a husband, a father, a son, a brother and a friend to his family and loved ones."

In less than a year there have been 23 confirmed incidents in Bermuda involving firearms, including two deaths and 12 others injured in shootings.

"We are confronted by a small number of violent criminals who are determined to attack each other with an absolute disregard for the safety of others that might be placed in danger," Mr. Wright said. "The top priority for the Bermuda Police Service (BPS) remains catching and convicting the persons responsible and reducing the violence."

The two local teams investigating Saturday morning's fatal shooting in the St. Monica's Road area are "working flat out to bring the offenders to justice," he continued. A crime scene examiner and a forensic pathologist from the U.S are assisting local authorities. "Police are focusing efforts on those Prolific Priority Offenders who present the greatest threat to themselves and their communities."

OPERATION SAFER STREETS

The Operation Safer Streets initiative, which has run in Bermuda for most of 2009, will soon be reviewed by the FBI Safe Streets Gang Unit. Police have asked the FBI to travel to Bermuda to conduct training workshops and help with improvements to the Intelligence Division's gang analysis products and shooting scene investigations.

According to police, Operation Safer Streets has already resulted in record-setting arrests, which have increased almost 60 per cent over last year. Drug enforcement activity has increased nearly 40 per cent and serious assaults are down by 28 per cent.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

Police are appealing to anyone with information about Saturday's shooting to contact Acting Chief Inspector Michael Redfern or Detective Inspector Calvin Smith on 295-0011. They are particularly interested in anyone who saw Mr. Hartford on Friday night.

Superintendent Antoine Daniels said: "Police would like to thank those individuals who have come forward so far and provided information and are making a further appeal to anyone who has any information about this incident to contact investigators."

Those with information can also call the confidential Crime Stoppers Bermuda hotline on 800-8477 or visit the Crime Stoppers Bermuda website at www.crimestoppers.bm.