Saying they were fed up of high crime levels, residents of John John, Laventille are appealing for the establishment of a police post in the area in an effort to curb the “senseless killings” before the people themselves take matters into their own hands to bring some level of peace to their community.
The appeal was made on Wednesday at a Police Service town meeting at the John John Basketball Court.
Kent Ben, who said he has lived in John John for the last 56 years, lamented the wanton killings “where brothers and friends go to school together, sit down in the same class, and after that we come out here and people who living right across there in Africa, can’t come across right here in Block 8.”
He challenged the police to find out, “How all the guns coming here? Who controlling the drugs? Because with drugs you get guns and when guns start to come, there are people who are in charge and when they take away the people who are in charge, the people under them, they have nobody to control them.”
He said the police already know what he was telling them. “There is something going on in this area and I talking it” because tomorrow he might be killed.
Ben said while the older people in the community may not be targeted, the youths have to fear for their lives because of warfare with a neighbouring community.
“That has been going on for a while, where they coming and shooting, shooting, and I am saying to you that people will get vex and retaliate. It’s not the right thing, but how do we go about seeing about that?”
Michael Sullivan said a police post in the Spree Simon area would protect them from attacks from rival gangs. He said he operated a Spiritual Baptist church in the area but it has been inactive for some time because of the worsening crime situation.
Sullivan said he recently tried to get young people in the area interested in music and suggested that the police partner with churches and other groups such as his.
Acting Snr Supt Floris Hodge-Griffith, who is in charge of the Port of Spain Division, said she and her senior officers at the Besson Street police station were committed to dealing with the high crime levels in John John. She hoped the town meeting would be the start of peace.
Another resident said that the removal of a police patrol from the area had caused an upsurge in violence, whereupon Hodge-Griffith said the residents should have informed the Besson Street police of the situation before.
She said the patrol would have been removed to be placed in an an area which needed it more urgently. However, she said if the residents believed returning the patrol would help, it would be done.