- Residents of Lakes Pen and Lime Tree Grove in St. Catherine, who were previously at odds with each other, have found common ground on which to mend their differences, in the newly constructed $26 million community complex.
- Construction of the facility, shared by both communities, was completed in May, and since its opening, it has been deemed pivotal in reducing the level of crime and violence.
- The multi-purpose centre houses a police post and facilities for sports and other community activities.
Residents of Lakes Pen and Lime Tree Grove in St. Catherine, who were previously at odds with each other, have found common ground on which to mend their differences, in the newly constructed $26 million community complex.
Construction of the facility, shared by both communities, was completed in May, and since its opening, it has been deemed pivotal in reducing the level of crime and violence which had been affecting residents and other stakeholders.
The multi-purpose centre houses a police post and facilities for sports and other community activities.
Its development, which was funded by the Sugar Transformation Unit (STU) in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, is being welcomed by residents of both communities.
They report that businesses in the areas are able to operate much later at nights, and that residents are able to traverse freely between the communities without fear of intimidation or acts of violence from unscrupulous persons.
President of the Lime Tree Grove Citizens Association, Miriam Campbell, emphatically tells JIS News that “we are very happy for it.”
“Since it (has been) here, crimes are down, and everybody is happy again. Every activity (is) going on here, and the police are very much active here; the people are happy for them. They walk through the scheme night and day, speak with the neighbours, and we can even open our grocery shops until 11:00 to 12 o’clock (at nights),” she informs.
Coach of the Royal Lakes football team, Janoy Porter, says the facility functions unifying centre for the young people.
“The young people in the communities feel good about the centre; we really appreciate the help that we got. It is a wonderful thing for the community, (and) it is actually doing its job (of uniting the residents) already,” he states.
Coach of the Royal Strikers netball team, Sanzette Facey, tells JIS News that the members are able to train until 8:00 p.n. each day, when they do so, and that interaction between both communities has improved significantly.
“Gone are the days when you would not have Lakes Pen (residents) coming over to Lime Tree and, certainly, you wouldn’t have Lime Tree (residents) going over there. This sports and the multi-purpose facility has brought unity in the communities,” she declared.
At the complex’s recent opening, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Novlette Grant, urged the residents to “find ways and means to talk to the police who are at the post.
“Don’t allow people to frighten you away from speaking with the police. It is not about being an informer. There are problems that you can get help with by talking with the police. (If) you have children who you may be having difficulty with, talk with the police. If they can’t provide you with the answers that you need, they can direct you to the agencies that have the expertise. That is what the police are here for… to help you where they can, (and) to direct you to sources and places where you can get help,” the ACP told her audience.
National Security Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting, told the residents that establishment of the police post is indicative of “a deepening of the partnership between the community, the police, the political representatives, and the church leaders.”
“It is precisely the type of mobilization that our Unite for Change initiative aims to galvanize right across Jamaica. It is a hub of social interaction in the community, and it will give an excellent opportunity for police personnel to get to know community members on an individual basis,” the Minister said.
In recounting the level of tension previously existing in the areas, Spanish Town’s Mayor, Councillor Norman Scott, said he was “comforted” knowing that the citizens of Lakes Pen and Lime Tree Grove and their environs, will feel much safer with the presence of security officers in close proximity.
He argued that crime is an impediment to communities progressing, and can only be dented when residents and the police work together towards achieving the desired results.
“Crime fighting can only be successful when there is cooperation, respect, and trust amongst us. I encourage all residents to give to the police your full support,” he stated.
Superintendent of Police in charge of the St. Catherine North Division, Howard Chambers, assured that the approach of his members is to get the various stakeholders in the communities supporting each other, while they employ crime reduction measures for community safety.
“As such, we have created and will sustain a dedicated police staff within the community to efficiently and effectively prevent, detect, and solve crimes. We are committed to serving the citizens, and you can rest assured that the services offered will be of the highest quality,” the Superintendent said.
For his part, Member of Parliament for East Central St. Catherine, where the communities are situated, and State Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Arnaldo Brown, said the centre’s location is appropriate for the residents to channel their energies into productivity.
“It is a combination of sports, community organizations, (and) faith-based organizations. It is (about) bringing back a sense of safety, and promoting social engagement. We are bringing all the resources to channel people into positive engagement,” he stated.