Posted: Thursday, July 27, 2023. 7:35 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: In the past few weeks, Police have made a series of arrests of individuals on the basis of being members of a gang, contrary to the Crime Control and Criminal Justice Act.
It gets the accused – subject to seeking bail at the High Court – off the streets for a time and in conjunction with other projects and interventions, is intended to cool off the streets.
As explained by Commissioner of Police Chester Williams, it is preferable to instituting a State of Emergency in trouble areas that will limit law-abiding citizens’ movements as well: “One lawful way in which we would normally do is to look at those persons who are involved in gang activity or are actively involved and then we go after them with gang legislation. It is either we apply the gang law or we do an SOE. I am sure that the latter would be preferable to some, but at the same time too, I also think that the former is more legally done in terms of just going after specific persons, as opposed to declaring an entire area and then we go in there and operate. That gives some law-abiding citizens some discomfort that they don’t like. So we just try to use the gang law, we just pick out who needs to be picked out and then we charge them.”
The Commissioner emphasized, in the wake of the murder of Steve Moss on Tuesday afternoon and hours before that of James Escarpeta on Wednesday night, that there has to be a balance between weeding out the troublemakers and continuing to work with those who want to help reduce violence on the streets: “…while I know that there may be some critics in terms of the work of LIU [Leadership Intervention Unit] and would like to make it seem – that is not the case and as I had discussed many times before that we don’t expect that LIU is going to stop all crimes from occurring. Certainly, crime will occur from time to time and we will have to find a way to address it.” He also noted that police have stepped up emphasis on reducing retaliation for gang-related killings, as difficult as it may be, and have had some success in this area.
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