Stop Drop and Go yields 72 firearms

POSTED: 11/24/14 7:50 PM

St. Maarten—Seventy-two (72) illegal firearms are now off the streets of St. Maarten/St. Martin as a direct result of the Stop Drop and Go initiative of Dutch and French police. Now that the project is over, the police intend to make good on their word to exercise tougher gun controls which will include more stop and search.

Of the 72 firearms 63 were handed in on Dutch St. Maarten and nine on French St. Martin. In total the Dutch team received 16 rifles, 23 handguns, 5 shotguns and 19 pellet guns. The Stop Drop and Go project was carried out to give persons in possession of illegal firearms the opportunity to hand them in to law enforcement officials without fear of prosecution. Both sides are unanimous that the project was a success.

“Last week, in the late afternoon, an elderly man came to the Attorney General’s Office in Simpson Bay to surrender his guns. The weapons were wrapped in a local newspaper in which the honorable Dennis Richardson was mentioned as being Lt. Governor of the island territory St. Maarten. It was a newspaper from 1998…..Time flies. It also did for the ‘Stop, Drop and Go’ project. After four weeks the project was finalized with this elderly man surrendering his weapons,” police spokesman Inspector Ricardo Henson states in a news release.

Some of the weapons that were surrendered on the Dutch side will be transported to the NFI, the forensic institution in the Netherlands. “They will be investigated by them, and (almost) all the others will be destroyed.  Why ‘almost’ all the others? Some of them were antique, and it would be a waste to destroy ancient weapons like that.” The ‘Stop, Drop and Go’ team will make them unusable and exhibit these ancient items.

“Some people say that the ‘Stop, Drop and Go’ project hasn’t been a success, because the real criminals didn’t come in to hand over their guns. Look on the brighter side: every gun off the street is one less gun that can cause harm in the hands of the wrong people, therefore every gun off the streets makes a safer country for all of us.”

Henson said the team considers the project a great success and noted that the silicon wristbands promoting the project “were spotted everywhere” and, flyers and posters were spread all around the island. “The project was mentioned many times in the media, there probably wasn’t a single person on the island that was unaware about the project. And many persons actually came to surrender their illegal fire arms on the third floor of the Puerta del Sol Plaza in Simpson Bay and in the police stations in Marigot and French Quarter.”

With the official end of the project, the judicial action against firearms will become tougher, Inspector Henson explained. “People have had enough chances to surrender their illegal fire arms. As we speak, plans are being made by the public prosecutors and the police departments to point out certain areas on the French and Dutch side of the island where preventive searches can be arranged. So people might run the risk that they’re stopped by the police and have themselves, their cars and their luggage searched thoroughly for illegal fire arms. These actions will take place in the very near future,’ Inspector Henson said. He added that the Police force is going to respond intensively to information that’s been brought to their attention recently about where to find illegal fire arms. A special team is planning to pay the owners of illegal arms a house visit and search for the weapons. Since the grace period is finished now, everybody that is found in possession of an illegal fire arm will be arrested. The public prosecutors will ask the judges for stiffer punishment. “Putting an end to all illegal fire arms on the friendly island is in the interest of us all, so we’re positive that the general public will cooperate and understand these actions.”

He added that all parties–the Prefet, the minister of justice, the public prosecutors, the solicitor general and the police forces on both the French and the Dutch side– are proud of the success of the project and the number of guns that are now off the streets. Guns, he added, that were delivered by citizens who supported the project ‘Stop, Drop and Go’/’Deposez vos armes’ project.

“The project might be over, but our island wide battle against illegal fire arms still continues.”

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