Security firms have called for high-level discussions with Government to determine the way forward in the wake of the gun violence on the Island.
The need was especially pressing in the wake of the double murder at Belvin’s Variety on January 23, said Security Associates Limited CEO Carlton Crockwell.
Despite that, arming security guards with guns was “definitely not” the way forward, he stated.
“I would like to send my heartfelt condolences to the families of the latest gun violence in Bermuda. We need to examine ways that the security industry can operate in the current environment to better protect its clients and personnel,” he said.
“At Security Associates our position is we do not support security officers carrying guns. However discussions should be held between the security industry and government authorities to determine ways that the security industry can operate in the current environment to better protect its clients and personnel.”
Operations manager at Shield Security Limited, Anthony Mouchette agreed.
“We should be in discussions with the authorities to improve the way we do security in Bermuda going forward.
“That discussion should include improving security at our senior schools in particular and schools in general,” said Mr Mouchette.
“I think it’s just a matter of time before the level of violence escalates in our schools, the time has already come for metal detectors,” said Mr Mouchette.
“I can only speak for my company, but I will say that we need more protective equipment than what is currently allowed. Any changes will require legislation and it’s long overdue.
“While I say no to firearms, I believe the time has come for security guards to be armed with asps, which are similar to police batons, [and] more protective gear including pepper spray.”
Such changes would require certified training for security guards to be qualified but “it’s just a matter of time” before they become a necessity, he said.
Added Mr Mouchette: “We had a security officer who was physically attacked a few years ago, surprisingly we haven’t had any more since. Those legislative changes are long overdue.”
Another security firm owner who asked not to be named agreed it was time security guards were better protected.
“I don’t think we need to be armed with guns but I do think we need permission to carry more protective gear because things are getting worse. All you have to do is take a look around and see what’s going on.
“When I got my licence to do security work 12 years ago, they told me we cannot carry any sort of weapons on the job. That licence costs $600 or more each year, and times have changed,” he said.
He predicted unemployment would be a driving force behind crime involving the use of firearms this year. And he said the time has come for all police officers to carry guns, not just the Armed Response Unit.
“Not only should they carry guns, there should be two officers in patrol cars at all times,” he said. “I don’t think we need to be armed with guns, but it’s pretty clear that things are getting more than just a little crazy around here.”
The issue was raised at a town-hall meeting held last week by Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva.
Asked whether he thought security guards should carry guns, Mr DeSilva replied: “The answer is a simple one. No.”
Ricco Furbert, 25, and Haile Outerbridge, 34, were gunned down inside Belvin’s Variety on Happy Valley Road in Pembroke last month.
Two men have been arrested on suspicion of committing the murders. No formal charges have been laid.
There have been 23 gun murders in Bermuda since May 22, 2009. Ten of those remain unsolved.