Stop teen killers
By Janelle De Souza Friday, August 23 2013
One day after police went into the Beetham Gardens armed to the teeth, searching for guns, drugs and other illegal items, Acting Commissioner of Police, Stephen Williams, returned to the area yesterday to talk with youths, and give them some direction in life.
Yesterday, Williams visited the Beetham Police Youth Club and encouraged the children of Beetham, Sea Lots and Laventille to first set goals for themselves — stay away from drugs, work hard. He assured them that education would help them reach those goals.
“It’s not an easy journey, but youth club life allows you to understand discipline; allows you to understand commitment; allows you to understand issues of values, such as honesty and integrity, and have an appreciation of respect. All that would contribute to getting you to that point to reach (your goals),” he emphasised.
Williams told reporters he decided to visit the Youth Club because it was about having a lasting, positive impression on young minds. He noted that some of the children present were exposed to adverse influences in their environment, such as guns, drugs, gangs, and larceny.
He hoped the Youth Club would help reshape the future generation, give them direction, and influence them to be productive citizens in the future.
“We are struggling today with teenagers who are gunning down each other with no sense, or appreciation of the implications of that. Life is not precious to them,” he said.
He noted that the prevention of crime was now the Police Service’s first priority, and so believed officers had to be proactive in shaping the lives of youths. He also encouraged professionals, ordinary citizens, and corporate entities to give their time and other resources, to assist in this reshaping.
“We complain all the time about what’s happening in the country,” he said, “it is about moving from complaint, to action. The work in places like Beetham Gardens Police Youth Club is what will make the difference in the lives of young people in Trinidad and Tobago.”
However, Williams pointed out that it was also important for the police to act today, and so assured they would continue police exercises in “hot spot” areas as well as other areas with violent crime.
“We are targeting the control of crime. Anytime we have an upsurge of criminal activity, especially the violent crime, the media is the first one to highlight us. We do not want to be reacting. We want to take a positive approach and impact things. See if we can drive crime down, especially violent crime across Trinidad and Tobago. We want Trinidad and Tobago to be a safer place. That’s why we reach out, and we say we all have to contribute, work together, to make the difference for Trinidad and Tobago,” declared Williams.
He admitted however, that the police’s presence may only deter criminals for a short while, and that criminals would find other ways of continuing their criminal activity.
He hoped the police’s visible, active presence in communities, would act as a means of prevention.
Residents of Beetham agreed that the presence of the police has contributed to the reduction of crime in the area, but added that things had been calm for several months.
A 15-year-old resident told Newsday, “It’s been a long time since I’ve heard any gunshots, or about any robbery taking place, and after the raid yesterday (Wed) the police have been patrolling more often...I think it’s working well.”
One man noted that young men used to target residents and snatch their purses but since a police vehicle with officers had been stationed in the area, that had ceased. Asked what else he believed could be done about crime he said, “What more can they really do? Only God can do the rest.”
Speaking on the topic of corrupt police officers, Williams told reporters at the Youth Club that rogue police officers were not supported by other officers, the police service executive or the police association.
He added however, that they have to follow the law in dealing with the corrupt officers.
“A rogue police officer who commits crime is a far greater danger to a police officer than the criminal element outside there. So we will be doing everything possible to get rid of rogue police officers,” he stated.