Mr Dunkley said: “This is a continuation of excuses that the former Government has made — we’ve heard this line trotted out in the past.
Mr Dunkley said: “This is a continuation of excuses that the former Government has made — we’ve heard this line trotted out in the past.

A call to bring police under government control was today dismissed by Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley.

He said that Opposition Leader Marc Bean was making “excuses” for successive PLP governments to deal with the problem.

Mr Dunkley reacted after Opposition Leader Marc Bean criticized Government House and successive Governors — who have operational control of the police service — for failing to do enough to tackle gun violence and gangs.

Mr Bean told the House of Assembly, in his reply to the Throne Speech yesterday: “To date, we have been hampered by a Government House that has not moved as swiftly as we would have liked, as sternly as we would have liked and as efficiently as we would have liked in stemming the tide of gun violence.”

He added: “The PLP proposes the placing of the operational control of the Bermuda Police Service in the hands of the duly elected Government of Bermuda.

“We believe that Bermudians are best suited to direct our war on crime.”

But Mr Dunkley said today: “This is a continuation of excuses that the former Government has made — we’ve heard this line trotted out in the past.

“I don’t believe in making excuses — I believe in facing the challenges and making things work.”

He added: “In the two months I have been Minister of Public Safety, we have built up strong relationships with Government House and the Governor and the Commissioner of Police and his senior colleagues.”

And he said: “While there may be perceived walls in place, we can work through them.

“Everyone in Bermuda has the same desire to make Bermuda a better place. The Premier has tasked me with working with the community to tackle crime.

“I’m not going to make excuses — we are building strong relationships.”

Mr Dunkley added: “If the Opposition Leader wants to make excuses, don’t pull us into that quagmire. We’ve got a job to do.”

Mr Dunkley said that Mr Bean had been “way off base” in some of his Throne Speech proposals, including a call for the introduction of a national crime reduction plan.

Mr Dunkley added: “The police have a gang and gun reduction plan — they have made it clear on many occasions.”

He said that another Opposition call for “a sustained police presence” at areas known for drug-dealing, like sports clubs and street corners, had also been addressed by the police.

Mr Dunkley said: “They have stepped up their presence as required in certain areas and they have been very successful in what they’ve done.”

He added: “We understand that everyone in the community is very concerned about gangs and guns and drugs. I’m not going to get caught up in any political arguments. My job is to do something about it.”