“Criminal organizations are killing each other”

POSTED: 10/22/15 11:28 AM

Justice Minister Dennis Richardson about rising crime:

St. Maarten – The recent hike in crime can be attributed to criminal organizations fighting over territory and killing each other, Minister of Justice Dennis Richardson said at the Council of Ministers press briefing yesterday. The minister has taken notice of the crime situation and would rather focus on crime prevention efforts then contributing more money to capturing and locking up criminals. In a meeting with the police on Monday, the minister was informed that in 2014 there were ten murders while this year there are seven thus far.

Given the nature of the violent crimes this year can be seen as alarming but not that there is an immediate crisis. We have also seen an increase in the violence against police officers and I must commend the police for doing a lot with not a lot of resources. The small group of officers has managed to make five arrests out of the seven murders that took place. That in itself is remarkable and commendable,” said Richardson.

There is also a decrease in criminal activities in Philipsburg because of the increase of patrols and visibility of officers in the area during busy times. Richardson announced that the ministers of justice of Aruba and Curacao will be asked to send police officers to the island. “The police have asked me to do this and I will send a letter to these minsters. I do understand that they have agreed to come and assist us,” the Justice Minister stated.

Based on the protocol to strengthen the justice chain signed earlier this year, the minister has put in a request to the Netherlands to allow the special detectives that were assigned to assist with corruption cases to also investigate criminal cases. The Dutch have approved this.

Contrary to the impression that is given out there, the police are doing its work and we are doing our work to do whatever is necessary to tackle the crime situation. We do not want to create the impression that crime is rampant on the island and nothing is done about it, because that would have a negative impact on our community,” said Richardson.

The Ministry of General Affairs has drafted a terms of reference concerning insurance for police officers on duty. Several insurance companies on the island were asked to send in their proposals to government. The Minister wants to introduce this insurance for all uniformed officers of the police force. Leader of the United St. Maarten party (USp) Frans Richardson has been vocal in the media for these past days calling for the resignation of the minister. Richardson was asked to respond to the call from the Member of Parliament.

I don’t know how much times, you can call for my resignation but that seems to be a broken record as far as I am concerned. I do not think that you can hold the minister of justice personally responsible nor the organizations functioning under him for a change of mentality in the young people when it comes to committing crimes. You can hold the minister responsible when the minister is not taking measures or ineffective measure in order to curb crime. I am not prepared to be held accountable for that.”

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