RADHICA DE SILVA
Recognizing the risks of gang infiltration in vulnerable communities, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith has said he is training 1,000 police officers to act as mentors for disadvantaged youths.
He was speaking at a community meeting held in Tarodale Gardens, Ste Madeleine on Thursday night, organized by San Fernando East MP Brian Manning.
Griffith said the programmes titled Street Talk will be an important tool in the fight against crime. He said crimefighting was being done using a three-pronged approach- primary, secondary and tertiary methods.
Primary strategies include raids, arrests, patrols, roadblock and rapid response. Tertiary methods involve the criminal justice system and secondary methods include social programmes geared at keeping the youths away from crime using sport and other initiatives.
“I have been vociferous to try to find a way to put an end to impasse to T&T Football. If T&T football will crash it will cause a disaster and a ripple effect for young persons. It takes away opportunities and having mentors and role models in the communities. If these young people have no national footballer to look up to, they will look at gang members as their role model,” he said.
He noted that the Street Talk programme will reach out to certain youths.
“Someone who is seen as a delinquent, a school dropout or someone charged for a minor offence. If we don’t grab them and guide them properly we can lose them,” he said.
He added that sports provide the necessary character traits to be a good citizen.
“It requires diligence, punctuality, discipline, tactics, leadership, uniformity,” he added.
Griffith said the initiatives employed by the TTPS were already bearing fruit.
“There has been a 25 per cent decrease in every serious crime in T&T from murders, violent crimes, rape, incest robbery and domestic violence,” he said.
He noted that more people had faith in the TTPS.
Despite the achievements, Griffith said they still had a lot to do. He said the surveillance cameras which were not working fell under the Minister of National Security but noted that Minister Stuart Young had given a commitment to repair those which were out of service.
MP Manning commended Griffith for the achievements and said that he wanted more opportunities to be made available for the youth. He said Tarodale had the most number of young people than in any other community in the constituency.
Deshawn Daniel, 23, who lives in Tarodale complained that the area was stigmatized for crime. He said there was the presence of criminals in the area and he wanted opportunities for the youth in the area.
“There are lots of young persons unemployed who are not finding something to do and we have criminal presence brandishing jewellery and all sorts of nice things. It is easy for these young people to go to these negative elements,” Daniel said.
Another businessman who was robbed last year complained that the police failed to make arrests even though he was able to show the officers the exact location of the robbers as they fled the scene. He said on another occasion someone hit his vehicle on the highway and although a license plate number was given, the police could give no information to him about the driver.
ACP for South-Central Floris Hodge-Griffith said the police demands were many.
“We have evolved into a situation where we always doing are doing so much. We are in so much demand, we have to be omnipresent,” she said.
Anthony Clarke, a member of the executive of San Fernando East constituency called for a police youth group to be formed in the area. He said there were also programmes which the T&T Regiment could offer to help disadvantaged youths.