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Connecting people, cops

By ALEXANDER BRUZUAL Sunday, December 15 2013

click on pic to zoom in
In the photo, Santa Claus rides through the savannah on a Suzuki motor bike, much to the joy of several young children at a Christmas party on Soogrim...
In the photo, Santa Claus rides through the savannah on a Suzuki motor bike, much to the joy of several young children at a Christmas party on Soogrim...

Over 2,500 children and their parents converged on the Soogrim Savannah along Soogrim Trace, Laventille, yesterday, as the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF)’s “Heart and Minds Programme” held its annual Christmas celebrations.

The children were serenaded by the sweet vocals of popular calypsonian Sean Daniel, they were treated to the melodious orchestras of the TT Police Youth-club Steel Band and the TTPS Police Band; and they were frolicked among the various bouncy castles and partook in several activities including face painting and races. Speaking to Sunday Newsday yesterday, head of the IATF, Senior Superintendent Carlton Alleyne said the event was one of several outreach programmes that the Task Force was engaging in to reconnect with the people of Laventille.

“This is just a continuation of our first project that we had in 2012 which took place in Beverly Hills (Laventille). For this year, we’ve expanded it and are accommodating in excess of 2,500 children here on this field. This comes out of an initiative that was implemented by the (acting) Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams, and the IATF, through the Hearts and Mind programme, with assistance from various stakeholders such as the Ministry of National Security, the law enforcement policy, and people within the community.

“So we are here to try and touch the hearts and minds of these children, and by extension their families, and show them that there is a better way.

“We are rebuilding the trust within these areas, not only with these kids, with their parents as an extension, as we want to send them all a clear message — the Police Service cares about the children and the people in Laventille. So we want to show them that we can work together and bring safety and security to their community,” Alleyne said. Through initiatives like this, the Senior Superintendent said the Police Service was hopeful that they would make the allure of gang activity less attractive to young children, and show that there were other ways and means to get by in the world other than through criminal engagements.

“We are extending our arms to the people of Laventille, and this is something that will not stop here, but rather extend throughout the year as we continue to work with the children and people of these communities.

“For instance, our youth programmes currently engage in several outreach activities where we take children on bus-rides, to the zoo, to the beach, and so forth. And we don’t just stop there, as we have several workshops throughout the year that we engage with young adults and elders, as we try to help them better themselves, and so far, the response to our efforts has been positive, and people are grateful for our efforts,” Alleyne said.

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