LAVENTILLE residents are thankful for the joint army and police patrols and hope it can continue as peace has returned to their area with the patrols being resumed. The joint patrols have been in effect for more than a month after an increase in criminal activity in the area.
When Newsday visited various parts of Laventille yesterday, several policemen in vehicles were seen patrolling the various communities. Soldiers and police were also seen on foot, acknowledging residents who sat outside their homes observing the area.
For the residents, the bacchanal and crosstalk in the Senate on whether or not a Government bill that seeks to give soldiers the power of arrest, is just that — talk. Out in the streets of Laventille, residents are saying that they are seeing the tangible signs of the effect soldiers and police, patrolling as one, has in terms of peace and quiet.
Resident, Marvin Williams said the joint patrols have made a huge difference in the area and people are getting sleep when the night comes, as they now have peace of mind. “Before the patrols started, you would hear gunshots all through the night but now, it is quiet and that is good.
People can now come out their homes in the night and relax, they don’t have to hustle to come home before dark, so it is a more relaxed vibe,” he said. Another man, who did not want to give his name praised the patrols and expressed hope that it was something that was there to stay.
“Every night was a gunshot and that was not good for people with heart problems but now it is so peaceful. I feel comfortable now so these patrols really need to continue,” he said.
“Good morning gentlemen…all is well?” a soldier was heard asking residents, who returned the courtesy and nodded “yes”, all was indeed well. One resident of Picton who gave his name as “Castro” said the patrols should continue but only as a short-term solution.
In the long-term, he said, there must be a focus on changing the mindset of the children so they do not get involve in criminal activity when they get older.
Speaking outside of the Our Lady of Laventille RC Church in Picton, “Castro” said people are feeling safer although there were murders recently in Laventille.
“Yes there were murders recently but because of the patrols we are seeing a lot less criminal activity. There are constant patrolling and the residents feel safer but Laventille people have always accepted a high degree of danger, we are accustom to that but we need to find a long-term solution,” he said.
“Castro,” chairman of the parish council said the Our Lady of Laventille RC Church was working with young men, ten and under, to change their mindset by offering remedial classes
“We want them to become doctors, lawyers, so we need to work with them and get them into good schools and not only those who attend the church but also those children in the surrounding areas,” he said.
The classes are from 3.30 pm to 5 pm and the children are taught by parishioners. “Castro” said they have seen a great change in the children.
“We had children who failed SEA (Secondary Entrance Assessment) in the year before and they were able to pass it last year and they now attend good schools so it is making a difference,” he said.
“Castro” said he and three other men who are seen as leaders in the community have put together teams of five boys all under the age of ten who participate in cricket and football.
“They are young men with a lot of energy and they need to harness that energy into these teams and they feel committed to it. They also have to attend the remedial classes and if they do not then they can’t stay on the team,” he said.
“Castro” said he hopes that in five years there will be a major difference in the Laventille community.