Five years ago, while working for the newspaper, I wrote an article entitled: ‘Dark helmet visor ban back on the table’.
That was in February 2012, an article written on the same issue that was thrashed back and forth years before then. An issue still being thrashed about like a political football, only this ball plays a leading role in the ongoing battle to combat CRIME in Bermuda today.
Fast forward to 2017, the year the government administration changed on July 18th. And still, as a country, we have yet to deal with the one thing CCTV cameras will never see – the faces behind crash helmets with dark visors!
Yes, they are used by some motorcyclists to protect their faces and eyes from insects and bright sunlight. But they are also used by others to commit crime.
There are those who say banning these helmets won’t make a difference. A former policeman once told me, would be criminals, who use these helmets to conceal their identities, will cover their faces with something else; if these helmets with dark visors were banned in Bermuda.
And then there are those who question why motorists, who genuinely prefer helmets with dark visors to keep the sun out of their eyes, should be penalised? A valid point – perhaps. But what’s wrong with clear visors with dark sunglasses worn under them:
I don’t know about you, but whenever some young man, who knows me, pulls up alongside of me wearing one of those crash helmets with dark visors, to say ‘hello’; I get this eerie feeling. Frankly, it creeps me out! And the ones dressed in all dark clothing with those helmets on, creeps me out even further!
I can’t imagine how cashiers feel whenever someone walks, or rides up to them, while on the job. I often wonder how the staff felt while working in that jewellery store on Front Street, when two gunmen walked in wearing those helmets walked in brandishing a gun to commit armed robbery! Surely they flashback to that day when they were held at gunpoint, whenever they return to work, or every once in a while. Or, maybe they just got over it – I don’t know. Maybe one day I’ll ask.
What I do know is, since that day, on April 28th in 2016, the day those two gunmen robbed that jewellery store, it marked the tenth armed robbery committed in Bermuda since Boxing Day the year before. And, once again, the culprits concealed their faces by wearing helmets with reflective visors, when they robbed the Gem Cellar in the Walker Arcade shortly before 11:30am, amid shoppers, including tourists, in broad daylight.
Thankfully, no one was physically injured when a gun was brandished at a female employee, who was ordered to hand over cash and jewellery in a shopping bag that day.
Both suspects, who escaped on a motorcycle, were described as Black males of slim to medium build, who stood between 5ft 11in and 6ft 2in tall. Based on the description, that could have been any number of Black males here, especially when their faces are concealed by crash helmets with dark visors.
In 2012, Cabinet Ministers, led by former National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief, were considering new legislation to ban full-face black visors for motorcycle helmets.
The move came in the wake of another armed robbery, this time by four men, all wearing crash helmets with full-face dark visors, when they robbed the Hitching Post in Sandys.
It also followed another gun murder that same year, when Stefan Burgess was gunned down at a home on Glebe Road in Pembroke, by men wearing those same helmets on January 8th, in 2012.
Then Transport Minister Derrick Burgess and Minister Perinchief, met to discuss the subject. Mr Perinchief stated that he supported a ban, while Mr Burgess said “a ban could be a possibility”. But they needed “to get approval from caucus and Cabinet first”. It never happened!
The government administration changed in 2012, and it has changed again since then. The PLP is now back at the helm, with plans to take a rounded holistic approach to the gang and gun violence still plaguing the island.
In between all of that, editorials were printed with a non-effective newspaper campaign against crash helmets with dark visors that eventually fizzled out with little, if any impact. After all was said and done, once again – nothing happened!
What has happened is more crimes committed with the use of these helmets, in armed robberies and more than a few gun murders – maybe not so much in recent weeks, but the consistency, when you check the record speaks for itself.
In a newspaper editorial published in July 2015, entitled ‘Enough is enough – make visors illegal’, the editor recalled another “early-morning robbery that took place in Warwick”, to push for laws to be changed.
“The country has pussyfooted around this issue for far too long in the naive belief that criminals will stop being criminals. Both political parties, as the government of the day, have had a crack at this since the vexed issue became seriously topical four years ago,” he wrote.
“But then, as now, little or nothing has been done to force our criminal underbelly into any form of rethink that might either serve as a deterrent or facilitate apprehension and summary justice.”
There was a public outcry and an online petition was started, which led to the subject being addressed in the House of Assembly. But, once again, as it turned out – NOTHING HAPPENED AGAIN!
What will it take to get this subject addressed in the general interest of public safety? We already know that any proposed amendments to the Road Traffic Act, will have to go through the Minister of Transport first. The new Minister is Walter Roban.
We also know that it is an issue that has been thrashed about by both government administrations, while crimes involving the use of these helmets are still being committed.
The question now is whether or not the possibility of a ban is on, or back off the table for the time being? Keep in mind that anything that hinders the activities of would be criminals is a good thing!
Placing a ban on these helmets may not be deemed a good thing for the merchants who sell them, or the motorists who purchase them. How do you find a happy medium when it comes down to national safety, to make Mr and Mrs Joe Public feel more at ease?
In the wake of the ongoing onslaught of violent crime, the first step would be to admit there is a problem when it comes down to full-face dark visor crash helmets, and the role they play in crimes committed on this island today.
On behalf of Bermuda’s electorate, to the powers that be, we say: “Cut back on the ‘back and forth’, and actually DO SOMETHING in the name of your public’s safety!”