AS the impact of criminal activity continues to affect and challenge citizens to implement more safety and security measures, Newsday continues to look at crime-fighting measures, security options and community action strategies that contribute to making your environment safer.
Yesterday we looked at how you can beat the "crime triangle" and featured suggestions on personal, home, vehicle and ATM safety and neighbourhood watch groups. Today we feature a community's approach to making their neighbourhood a safer place.
Most communities in TT are exposed to increased criminal activity which is negatively affecting the average citizen’s quality of life. Daily, there are occurrences which confirm the fear that crime and criminality have affected every aspect of our day-to-day lives, exposing citizens to the possible loss of possessions, limb or life. Criminal behaviour is also regularly highlighted on social media on a daily basis, at times with shocking displays of brutality.
The fact that the Police Service has to advise female drivers to be alert when parking their cars, and the brazen attack of a school teacher relieving her of her car on the school compound is further testament of the brazenness of the criminal element.
While community patrol is recommended in fighting crime and keeping neighbourhoods safe, not all communities can afford to pay for professional security. There is strength in numbers and other collective action such as neighbourhood watch groups, tenant patrols, block watch as well as citizens on patrol can help boost neighbourhood security. However, residents will also have to work out what's the best cost-effective, practical or even cost free for their communities.
Driven to action, the residents of Gulf View, San Fernando, have adopted a united approach to protect their properties and families. In the second half of 2017 the residents were experiencing an increase in criminal activity. The Gulf View Crime and Awareness committee remembered the service they received from the national Community Comfort Patrol (CCP) and decided to utilise its services in their fight against crime. They previously benefited from the CCP's efforts before its folded in 2016 and decided to reintroduce the service in their neighbourhood.
Newsday spoke to resident who expressed satisfaction with the service.
After a two-week trial the CCP was engaged by Gulf View to provide its services to the area. The constant presence of the patrol has given a sense of comfort and has improved the quality of life for residents who have been singing praises about the officers' effectiveness. Residents say the officers are very friendly and truly look out for them.
Hassan and Salisha Cassim of Fahey Street said they have no regrets about joining the programme and are now very comfortable in their home knowing that there are people looking out for them.
Over at Sea Moss Drive, Andy Persad said he was impressed with the manners of the officers, something he thinks is lacking in TT. “They are very friendly and look out for everybody,” Persad said.
Michael Prasad said there is a degree of safety now and he has moved from being uncomfortable to comfortable.
While moving around to talk to residents we encountered two CCP officers helping a woman whose vehicle was overheating. Together with two residents, they were able to provide relief for the female driver and her children and send them on their way.
This type of service is what makes resident so satisfied with officers who they say go beyond their specific duties to assist residents.
Over in Bel Air, Robert Taylor said the CCP is providing very good service when compared to the other two companies he tried before. “These guys are exceptional, they stop and check on you daily.”
Vitra Imambaksh says she sleeps well at nights now and the officers treat her like family while doing a good job.
Before the CCP came David Anton said he had problems but now feels better as the CCP's response time is superb. “I am more comfortable now”.
“These are professionals at work here,” said Winston Partap. “They are friendly, every time they pass they stop and seek my interest.”
Rajnath Chanka agrees that the Government cannot do everything and people have to take matters in their own hands. “This is our safety and we have to protect our families,” he said. He is pleased that whenever he calls the service they reply and whatever is his concern they handle it.
Residents also commended the response time by the officers and their interaction with them. They also have the option to request an escort to their homes late at night. One common suggestion among the residents interviewed is that they feel more people should consider such a service so that everyone can benefit.
Next Newsday will look at electronic security options.you