News Release: HAMILTON, Bermuda – Today the City of Hamilton is excited to announce an expansion of a successful partnership initiative with the Bermuda Police Service.

In July 2021, the City publicized that it would be extending its Extra Duty Police Officer Programme for the remainder of the year by committing an extra $54,000 towards its funding…this was additional to the previous $57,000 it had provided since the inception of the programme in October 2020.

The initiative provides high visibility policing in the area of North Hamilton. It involves two officers working four hours, five days a week in the North Hamilton area. The times of the patrols are varied, and the officers work in partnership with the City Parish Constable.

The idea for the initiative was born through the City’s regular communications with residents and businesses in North Hamilton; the number one issue that came forward was that of safety.

Since the programme began, there has been:

  • 2,148 hours of patrols in the area of North Hamilton;
  • 1,150 parking tickets and 18 traffic tickets issued;
  • 9 arrests made

The community response to the programme has been overwhelmingly positive. The Police officers continuously interact with business owners, merchants and area residents who have expressed appreciation at the continued presence of police.

The presence of the officers not only discourages antisocial behaviour and criminal activity, but it also provides targeted enforcement of parking violations and assists with identifying ‘fly tipping’ offenders – issues which area residents have told us are particularly vexing.

North Hamilton is now experiencing a trend of lower crime rates and anti-social behaviour which, we believe, is a direct result of these patrols. Officers have also noted that instances of alcohol consumption on the streets have curtailed since the start of the programme.

Aside from the obvious policing benefits, the initiative has also had the unexpected benefit of playing an information-gathering role, with police officers feeding back to us helpful infrastructure data about the area – such as identifying trip hazards and areas which would benefit from speed control or additional signage.

Today, I am excited to announce that we will be extending the programme further South with additional ‘antisocial behavior patrols’ along areas such as Front Street, Reid Street and Church Street, five days a week.

This move is being taken in response to direct feedback from the business community, City ratepayers and City users who have approached us and identified that they feel there is an immediate threat to people’s safety in the city, specifically with regards to vagrancy and aggressive panhandling which significantly impacts persons doing business in Hamilton. We have received reports that City-users do not feel safe in some instances, and this is something which cannot afford inaction.

Officers will look for innovative approaches to make antisocial behaviour in the City unappealing for would-be offenders. Officers will work in conjunction with other entities to firmly mitigate risk to members of the public.

Officers will patrol as a high visibility presence; particularly in those areas where there is antisocial behaviour and instances of aggressive panhandling.

Officers will identify any offences and take the appropriate action. Offences that will be targeted include public drinking on the streets, persistent and aggressive begging, relieving oneself in public, verbal threats, assaults of any nature and anything else that would be considered antisocial behaviour. It should be made clear that “appropriate action” does not always come in the form of an arrest; it could be simply an officer telling the individual to stop that behavior.

Officers will continue to encourage and educate bars and restaurants regarding how to utilize their own security to mitigate aggressive individuals. To that end, there will be close monitoring and collaboration with City businesses regarding the roles we all can play in keeping our City safe.

Officers will be supportive of the unsheltered population and act as a conduit to connect them with helping agencies and get them any assistance which they may require.

The Police will be using several Key Point Indicators (KPI’s) to determine the success of the programme such as:

  • Reduction of calls to service through 211/911/online portal
  • Feedback from businesses normally effected
  • CoH feedback
  • Prosecutions initiated

The City recognizes that homelessness and vagrancy is a complicated issue that has many layers.  To that end, the Bermuda Police Service has been an active agent in working with us to develop meaningful short and long term solutions.  It is important that we, as a community, come together to deal with this significant issue.

The City of Hamilton recognizes the importance of creating a dynamic living and working space for all residents and businesses within the City.

We remain committed in working with businesses, governmental agencies and the charitable sector to identify how we can effectively and efficiently manage City challenges.

Top Feature Photo Supplied