BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - BRINGING communities together to fight crime is the primary aim of a new civil organization members, representatives from the Police Force and individuals within the Old Road Policing District.
The Old Road District Community Advisory Committee on Crime Prevention was established to bring all communities within the district together to fight crime and provide a platform to enhance youth development within those areas.
Speaking with SKNVibes News, Sergeant Matthew McGuire explained that the group covers the West Farm to Godwin Ghaut areas with a group of retired civil servants working to gather feedback on the best practices of how to police the communities across the districts, and create a nurturing environment.
The Federation was plagued by instances of crime within various communities over the last decade and the Police Force has been working assidiously to solve the problem.
Over the last two years, there has been a noticeable decline in several categories of crime, including homicides, but some other categories have been prevailing.
Now, the Committee is doing its small part to assist in the larger crime fighting initiative. Though it has not been formally launched, the body has already started the groundwork and received feedback on the way forward.
One way of bridging the gap is by holding activities to bring together all communities within the district, and the first was held during the Christmas season.
“One of the things that we have pushed is community safety,” Sergeant McGuire said. “This is the first of the district activities in terms of the Committee. We are trying to bring the communities together in a way that they can socialize and interact.”
McGuire said the activity is the first in a number that would be held, as it teaches the younger generation about the past while presenting to the older generation some of the activities that they had taken for granted over time.
The Committee started its work in May 2019, but the onset of the pandemic severely impacted its work. That, however, did not stop the members from working and planning on ways to mitigate the problem within the district.
According to McGuire, “most of the time we have been meeting and planning and decided that it is time for us to present ourselves to the communities”.
By now coming to the public, the officer noted that it reminds the public that “ each of us has a role to play in crime prevention”.
Eugene Dias, Vice Chair of the Committee, suggested that for far too long the relationship between the police and communities has been strained, and the sharing of information has been lacking, and establishment of the group would seek to repair any mistrust that might be existing.
“As humans, when we see a police officer in uniform we tend to get scared. So what we try to do is bring the communities together in case the police need information. It will be easier to get the information to the police because they already associate themselves with the officers,” he noted.
But as the Committee continues to plan and layout the groundwork for community policing, it has set out four mandates that would govern its operations.
“We have been getting a lot of feedback from the community, the schools in the districts and we have been getting a lot of feedback saying how good the programme is to the schools and the community,” Dias stated.
This initiative is an area that should be replicated across the Federation in order to bring all communities together and stamp out the problem of crime.
The representatives all hope that other districts would carry out similar plans along with the Explorers Youth Groups across St. Kitts.