Efforts are being made by the Community Relations Department of the Clarendon Police Division to reactivate several neighbourhood watch groups in the parish and strengthen those that are active.
Speaking at a special meeting of the neigbourhood watch groups, held at the St. James Methodist Church Hall on January 25 in May Pen, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Marlene Wilson Christie, Island Co-ordinator of the Neighbourhood Watch Programme, said a campaign was on in earnest to revive neighbourhood watch groups that were dormant. “I’m here because the Watches are dying. Clarendon has 29 neighbourhood watches and only 13 are active. We need to do something about that. As you are aware, the neighbourhood watches can be used as a crime prevention tool. Crime is being committed in the communities and we’re also aware that the Police alone cannot solve it,” she said.
Mrs. Christie pointed out that partnership with the Police was critical to the success of the programme, adding that succession planning for the various groups was also important to ensure the programme’s continuity.
Succession planning, she noted, involved getting young persons interested in the watches and co-opting new members and training persons to become leaders. In addition, she said that watches needed to carry out community parenting, especially to those families who were not as prosperous as themselves, and that they could implement projects, such as ‘Adopt a Child or ‘Adopt a School’.
“We need to look at the social issues around us. We need to realize that crime these days is carried out primarily by those in the 13 to 25 age group. If your neighbour has five kids, because we can take care of ours, we don’t look out for the other kids. We need to go back to the days when a community grows a child,” Mrs. Christie said.
Emphasizing that dialogue was necessary to chart the way forward, she said that persons needed to put forward their ideas and recommendations in order to make the watches successful.
Some ideas presented included the involvement and supervision by more Police officers of the neighbourhood watches, particularly concerning attendance at meetings; the naming of a Liaison Officer for each watch; and providing relevant information to Police Officers that citizens felt they could trust.
A meeting is to be held with the Commanding Officer for Clarendon, Superintendent Terence Bent, to continue the effort for the revival of the programme in Clarendon.
In addition, five persons have been selected to make recommendations and present them at the next meeting to be held on February 16.