Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva
Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva
Nothing is off limits as community leaders work together to combat the escalation of violence.

The public is being reassured that "all options are still on the table" and further action will be taken if shootings continue over the holiday season. An undisclosed number of safe houses have already been set up for gang members who "fear for their lives".

Premier Dr. Ewart Brown said these refuges will give people the chance to break away from gangs.

Men and women who want "protection and new lifestyles" are already using them.

The safe houses were set up due to the spiralling gun violence that has claimed the lives of three men within two weeks.

Premier Brown spoke out yesterday at Government House alongside Governor Sir Richard Gozney, Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva and Public Safety Minister David Burch.

Sir Richard said they were "working together as closely as ever" to "take all necessary steps".

He added: "We will continue to keep in touch whether it is Christmas or not. We are always in contact and all options are on the table, nothing is off limits.

"We will take steps as and when we decide it is necessary."

Mr. DeSilva said the police had seen levels of "unprecedented cooperation" from the public and that everyone is "on the same page".

He added: "But there is no time to rest.

"I keep repeating the same message but tell us where the guns are and we'll pick them up, tell us who is doing the shootings and we will arrest them, tell us where the drugs are and we'll come and seize them. That is our commitment to the community."

The police are in the community "day and night" and it is hoped arrests for seemingly minor crimes will "set the tone".

Officers are to be sent to the U.S. to learn from the FBI task force. FBI officers will be also review the island's anti-gang strategy.

Some Christmas and New Year events, such as parties and football matches, may have to be cancelled for "the public's safety".

Minister Burch is encouraged by the police's efforts to make the community safe.

He said it is time to "send a message that (if you commit a crime), you will be caught".

He added: "Nothing is off the table in the menu of options. But we are not going to enforce a curfew at this stage, it wouldn't be beneficial."

Mr. DeSilva admitted that "we can't go on like this for much longer".

He said the force will continue to redeploy police on to the frontline with 35 extra officers on the streets over Christmas.

But Mr. DeSilva warned: "This is taking its toll on the force, we can't sustain this level of policing for very long. We will have to claw these officers back (to Prospect) in January."

The safe houses programme is being run by CARTEL, the non-profit organization headed by Pastor Leroy Bean and PLP MP Michael Weekes. For more information, contact CARTEL on 734-7972.