PHILIPSBURG:--- 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.
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.
The team that was responsible for the 'Stop, Drop and Go' project is unanimously: the project has been a great success. The silicon wristbands were spotted everywhere, 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. 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 to let the public know that a total amount of 72 weapons (63 on the Dutch side, 9 on the French side) were delivered by citizens who stated to support the project 'Stop, Drop and Go'/'Deposez vos armes'.
A categorization can be made about what kinds of weapons were surrendered between October 15th and November 14th 2014. In total the Dutch team received 16 rifles, 23 handguns, 5 shotguns, 19 pellet guns. 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 waist to destroy ancient weapons like that. The 'Stop, Drop and Go' team will make them unusable and exhibit these ancient items.
It isn't over yet
As was mentioned earlier by the 'Stop, drop and Go' team: when the project finishes the judicial actions will become tougher. After all, 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 firearms. These actions will take place in the very near future. Also the Police Force is going to respond intensively to information that's been brought to their attention recently about where to find illegal firearms. 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 firearm will be arrested. The Public Prosecutors will ask the judges for stiffer punishment. Putting an end to all illegal firearms 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.
The project might be over, but our island wide battle against illegal fire arms still continues!
KPSM Police Report