Friday, 15 February 2013 02:30
By Caseen Wilson
Antigua St. John's - In an effort to bring greater awareness to the community, members of the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda community based policing program ‘working together to prevent crime’ held a town hall meeting at the Green Bay primary School on Wednesday night.
The meeting was called to get a sense of the thoughts, concerns and ideas of the people in the community as well as to examine measures that could be taken to help improve and possibly rid the community of crime and violence.
Prime Minister and Parliamentary Representative for the Area Baldwin Spencer, who was also present at the meeting, said, “Sometimes there is a mistaken notion from members of the community that the police are our enemies, and as such we want to steer clear of having anything to do with them.”
He added, “We must recognize that in order for us to fight crime, we must develop a sense of understanding with the police. We must work together as we look seriously into the development of neighborhood watches, where we look out for each other to prevent crime. The various groups, institutions, voluntary organizations, churches and members of the community all have to be a part of this process because we are doing it for our interest.”
Also present at the meeting were Deputy Commissioner of Police Ivor David, Acting Commissioner of Police Henry Christian, other heads of departments and police officers.
Senator Makela Parker sent her apologies, as she was unable to attend due to Senate duties.
Small but nonetheless productive, the interactive session saw questions coming from various members of the community. The lawmen were on their heels, as the questions emanating for audience seem to represent the greater community. Some of the major concerns expressed by those in attendance was the “late” response time by police officers to crime; and small children wandering the streets alone.
Superintendent Nuffield Burnnet, Head of the Criminal Investigation Division, in responding to questions, said, “We (police officers) have to be very mindful of how we operate.
“We have to be professional and responsible at all times. And must be very careful how we respond to an individual’s call for help.”
Chairperson for the meeting, Police Spokesman William Holder said the Grays Farm Community was one of those where a notably high number of vicious crimes have taken place.
“…With the setup of a neighborhood watch, I am hoping that the Grays Farm area can model from other communities, such as in Cedar Grove, Mount Pleasant, Falmouth, Johnsons, where neighborhood watches have been set up and we are now seeing a decrease in criminal activities,” Holder said.
Regarding the relatively low turnout on Wednesday night, Holder said sufficient information about the meeting was sent to the various media houses and flyers were also distributed throughout the community. A move to have the meeting again is likely to be realized.
The next public meeting is scheduled for sometime next week.
In the meantime, Inspector Holder said investigation into the disappearance of 22 year-old Keriann Joshua of Potters, who last resided at Grays Farm is still ongoing.
He has renewed a public appeal for information about her whereabouts. Regarding the matters relating to the recent spate of violence, Holder said investigations are continuous.
To share information on this or any other crime, the numbers to call are 462-3913 or 462-3914 for the Criminal Investigations Department; 462-0125 for Police Headquarters or the Crimestoppers hotline at 800 TIPS (8477).