#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos – October 10, 2020 — Because violent crime is at its highest level ever in the Turks and Caicos, islanders must demand accountability when it comes to remedies announced during a crime strategy press conference held September 15.
Criminals are getting away with murder, literally speaking. Leaders are getting away with not curbing these violent, deadly encounters, figuratively speaking. Meanwhile residents and tourists are paying – in the worst cases – with their lives.
A 20th murder on October 8 revived feelings that safety is gravely under threat or non-existent in the Turks and Caicos, and that those managing national security are failing at their jobs.
National Security is part of the portfolio of the territory’s governor, who at this time is Nigel Dakin.
A Turks and Caicos businessman, Twelyn “T-Bone” Swann was shot and killed at his home and business on South Dock road, sometime between Wednesday night and Thursday morning. There has been a statement from TCI Police to confirm that a murder investigation is launched; nothing more.
Fifty-year old, T-Bone is well-known; a talented welder with a cheerful personality described as a ‘gem’ by those speaking to Magnetic Media. T-Bone is another beloved citizen gunned down at the sanctity of his home, which points to a trend for armed private property invasions which target and terrorise victims.
An outrageous crime, and confidence about catching the killer or killers is low.
One man spoke in a voice note about what he heard of how T-Bone was discovered: “…he was shot in his chest. Another mother who will never find out who do it; my God!”
“I really cannot wrap my mind around this, how these decent law abiding citizens gatta come to this man. It’s like so heartbreaking. You know? It’s so heartbreaking. I don’t know what this man children going through today and his family because it’s such a tight knit family. This is such sad news man,” said a woman from the group.
The comments were shared on WhatsApp; a part of a string of remarks about T-Bone, about crime, about the prevalence of guns and about the safety of the Turks and Caicos.
“…guns are on the black market and there seems to be no raids that are going on although you can hear of where they might be and who might be in possession of them. They’ve not really carried out any full scale raids to determine if the allegations being made have grounds,” said another woman from the chat who went on to inform, “They’re now saying you can have murder for hire in Turks and Caicos right now, if the price is right and people are afraid, really afraid.”
The Governor at the September press conference said there are raids which are getting guns off the streets.
“The Tactical Unit go from strength-to-strength. It’s they who are executing warrants at night, going through doors, removing weapons from armed men. Through experience they are becoming a ‘national elite’. Next month (October) they are joined by armed officers from the UK Police’s Firearms cadre – partly funded by the UK, partly funded by TCIG – who bring a full range of skills including the ability to go up against the hardest targets engaged in the most violent of offences. These UK Tactical Firearms Officers will be with us for a year while they are backfilled from our Force and the region. The UK is also sending firearms training officers to help upskill the overall Force,” said Nigel Dakin, Governor.
The raids by the tactical unit are covert operations. Trevor Botting, the Commissioner of the Royal TCI Police Force, during a media briefing on August 27, said over a period of 90-days the tactical unit performed 38 raids; there were seven arrests and four individuals have been arraigned on criminal charges.
More overtly the Governor has promised the Turks and Caicos will get armed officers from the United Kingdom and local police members will be trained in how to safely and proficiently use a firearm.
Accountability means, islanders should know when the help arrives and be informed of the progresses from this one-year deployment and training.
Two special investigators are also promised to arrive in the territory to boost capacity at the Criminal Investigation Department.
“Two UK Superintendents have either arrived or about to. They, along with the recently promoted Willet Harvey (responsible for the Sri Lankan investigation) will form the crucial mid-level leadership in the Force – the UK officers bring much homicide experience with them and unlike the past won’t just deliver, they will mentor,” said Governor Dakin in the press conference shared with the premier and the commissioner of police.
Islanders are assured of law for the protection of witnesses in criminal cases; forensic science to strengthen investigations; new modern legislation to incorporate electronic evidence and partnership with security companies to increase capacity for more ‘eyes and ears’ working to prevent crimes and catch criminals.
“But beyond the Police there is a huge cohort of those involved in deterring crime – the security industry – and there is I believe much more that can be done in professionalising this industry, regulating it, and, as is the case in the UK, building serious partnership between it and the police. Exploratory work has started, again being developed out of the National Security Secretariat to do just that. If we get this synergy right we will have a significantly expanded group of well-trained individuals, to an internationally recognised standard, working to the same ends – the increased security of our communities.”
Additionally, there is a plan to get to the root of criminal behaviour.
“The Permanent Secretary National Security has now taken direction from the Premier to do just this – help build a crime reduction strategy that is cross-Government and in partnership with society. It builds out of the success in Bermuda and Glasgow, it’s complex, but it is probably the most singularly important piece of work that Government is presently engaged on and I’m heartened to see the way the intelligent conversation has developed over the last year with, I think, a real understanding that what we face today could have been foreseen or prevented had different approaches been taken in the past. We now need to collectively write our own future,” said the Governor.
In the newest murder investigation of T-Bone Swann; the public learned: “Police Force responded to the South Dock Road area following a report at 7:11 a.m., that a lifeless body of a man was found on the ground outside of a building on Thursday October 8, 2020.”
The statement was issued on October 8. There has been no update on the progress of the investigation.
RTCIPF Marine Branch and USCG Working Together in Keeping Our Borders Secure
#TurksandCaicos, May 20, 2022 – During the afternoon of Wednesday 19th May 2022, a call was made to the RTCIPF Marine Operations Centre via VHF radio that a suspicious vessel was sighted around 35 miles south east of Providenciales. The operator immediately updated colleagues within the Royal Turks and Caicos Marine Branch who made their way to the location and with the support of a US Coast Guard (USCG) plane, safely intercepted an overloaded vessel carrying irregular migrants.
Following delicate coordination and the stabilization of the boat which was unsafe, severely overcrowded and none of the occupants was wearing life vests, the RTCIPF marine unit was joined by a second RTCIPF Marine crew and a third vessel crewed with TCI Regiment and Tactical Unit officers to support the delicate operation.
The vessel was carefully offloaded at sea to ensure the safety of the occupants after which, the boat was towed to South Dock where it arrived around 10:30pm with a total of 110 persons (84 males and 24 females and 2 juveniles) who were then taken into custody by the Immigration Department.
Superintendent Martyn Ball said, “Once again working with partners we have safely intercepted another vessel that was overcrowded, unsafe, risking the lives of those on board. This demonstrates the professionalism and dedication of the RTCIPF Marine Unit, working together with colleagues in the Marine Operations Centre, USCG, TCI Regiment, TCI Immigration and the RTCIPF Tactical Unit to save lives and keep our borders here in the Turks and Caicos safe. In the last couple of months around 768 individuals on 8 dangerous vessels have been intercepted which is testament to the professionalism of our teams here in the TCI and I am very grateful to the passing vessel who raised the alarm. I would appeal to anyone if you have any information relating to such activity that you call Crimes Stoppers free and anonymously on 1-800-8477 (TIPS) not only will you be saving lives but also supporting our national security here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”
Ten Selected for the TCREA Real Estate Mentorship Program
#TurksandCaicos, May 20, 2022 – Since the official announcement of the Turks & Caicos Real Estate Association’s High School Mentorship Program, ten mentees have been selected for the inaugural group and will begin their journey on the road to embracing the fundamentals of the real estate field this month.
TCREA Ambassador and Director of the mentorship program, Mr. Trevor Musgrove, shared how pleased the committee was to have received thirty applications for the program, “We extended the opportunity to high schoolers and young college students aged 13-17. Initially, the invitation for applications was shared only with Providenciales students because of the logistical challenge to accommodate in-person sessions with sister island students, as all our committee members are based in Providenciales.
Luckily, once the Ministry of Education came on board and endorsed the program, Honourable Rachel Taylor immediately encouraged us to extend the mentorship opportunity to all islands, pledging her Ministry’s commitment to handling the necessary authorizations and cost to ensure successful applicants outside of Provo would be able travel here as needed,” said Musgrove.
The successful applicants and their respective schools are as follows:
· Clement Howell High – Dashawn Brooks, Alyssa Callum
· Raymond Gardiner High – Olique Stubbs, Lewis Walkin, Jr.
· Precious Treasures – Aniyah Bovie
· Maranatha Academy – Shamya Missick
· British West Indies Collegiate – Pavla Lalakova, Andino Parker
· Louise Garland Thomas High – Abnise Noel, Antoine Gedeon
Musgrove said they were pleased to have had applicants from North Caicos and were hopeful to have students from Grand Turk and South Caicos among the group, however no applications were received from those islands.
On Tuesday, May 10th the final group came together for a virtual meet-up and briefing, where they were formally introduced to the program’s mentors and were given an overview of what to expect in the coming months.
The teens will receive a monthly educational module over the next six months and will be provided 1-2 weeks to internalize the information. They will then enjoy a monthly in-person session with their mentors where they will put their real estate acumen to the test in interactive sessions, field trips, and more.
Program mentor Manfred Smith of Sotheby’s Turks & Caicos shared his elation for the program’s momentum thus far, “We are excited about providing this opportunity to introduce high school students to the real estate industry. From the initial feedback, the students are also very keen to learn, which makes it rewarding for all as we contribute to the development of tomorrow’s professionals.”
Smith says the program also demonstrates TCREA’s continued commitment as good corporate citizens in the rapidly growing country. The committee hopes that the mentees would grasp all that they can as they continue their educational pursuits.
The program’s Facebook page, @tcreamentors, is live and will document the group’s journey as they move through the program’s phases. Along with Musgrove and Smith, the community can get to know more about the other committee members: Blair MacPherson of REMAX; Nina Siegenthaler of Sotheby’s; Vernica Delancy and Dedra Gray of Keller Williams; and Sean O’neill, of The Agency through the social media page as well.
At the end of the program, the students will sit a mock real estate license exam and will enjoy a retreat for a fun and memorable close-out.
It is TCREA’s hope that this initiative will garner an interest and appreciation for the industry among high-schoolers and will act as springboard to the development of the next generation of local real estate professionals in these islands.
DECR Launches Important Tropical Plant Areas & Species in TCI Project
#TurksandCaicos, May 19, 2022 – The Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) along with visiting scientists from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Kew) will launch the DarwinPlus 114 Project Tropical Important Plant Areas and Important Plant Species in TCI. The project was originally to begin in May 2020, but with Covid-19-related travel restrictions, along with restructuring at DECR and RBG Kew, two years of deferments were necessary. The project has begun and will be officially launched this week in a workshop on Thursday 12 May 2022 beginning at 9:00 AM in the National Environmental Centre.
In reference to the project, DECR Director Lormeka Williams stated, “With the recent completion of the National Physical Development Plan, the signing of the Climate Change Charter, and the review of the National Parks Ordinance, we are poised and ready to utilise new information on land use and impacts to our Protected Areas and green spaces. We are newly energised to commit to the discovery and description of our most sensitive and significant plant diversity hotspots. We’re inspired by our colleagues in the British Virgin Islands having completed the pilot of this project. We are also ready and excited to find out what these plants are that evade identification and may prove to be something unknown to science.”
The project is focused on identifying Tropical Important Plant Areas (TIPAs) in Turks and Caicos Islands. TIPAs are a network of the key sites for wild plants and threatened habitats identified using scientifically robust data. They are not legal designations, but a means to identify the most important sites for wild plant diversity and to inform the protection and management of sites. Identifying TIPAs will help prevent the global loss of plant diversity, whilst safeguarding the role of plants as primary producers and providers of ecosystem infrastructure, products, and services.
TIPAs also provides a framework for Governments to implement target 5 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Global Strategy for Plant Conservation – to ensure the protection of at least 75% of the most important areas for plant diversity of each ecological region by 2020 with effective management in place for conserving plants and their genetic diversity. TIPAs also contribute to implementing the CBD’s Aichi Biodiversity Target 12 – by 2020 the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained. Criteria for identification of Tropical Important Plant Areas were developed, and the first nationwide project was completed by RBG Kew and the Virgin Islands National Parks Trust in the British Virgin Islands in 2019. Assistant Director of Research and Development B Naqqi Manco participated in the April 2019 BVI TIPAs Workshop, and discussed the potential to replicate the project with long-established partners at RBG Kew in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Following the TCI TIPAs Launch Workshop, the DECR and RBG Kew team will trial the criteria over several sites of high plant diversity in Providenciales, North Caicos, and Middle Caicos. Over the next three years, the teams will cover other islands as well. Of particular importance will be the Turks and Caicos Islands eight known endemic plant species – those found nowhere else on earth. A secondary component of the project focuses on investigating some unique populations of rare plants in TCI, which may constitute new varieties or even species. RBG Kew will use DNA analysis to explore the relationship of these species to their closest relatives. Importantly, the rare and endemic species will be targeted for IUCN Red Data Listing as well, to assess their wild population status and trends.
Photo: This beautiful Encyclia orchid is one of the unique groups of plants that will be studied by the project.
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