FORMER acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams believes Saturday’s triple murder in La Canoa, Santa Cruz, could have been prevented if more adults provided care and support for at-risk youths in the community, and urged the public to take the time and effort to mentor children in need.
Speaking at his retirement dinner at the Police Retirees’ Association at Riverside Plaza, Port of Spain, on Sunday, Williams said he was disheartened after hearing about the murders, and that over the years, young people had been marginalised and neglected by adults who were supposed to guide and protect them.
Citing his own experiences with preparing his grandson, Denzel, for the Secondary Entrance Assessment examination, Williams said while it was a difficult task, the long-term benefits of showing care and understanding to young people could not be understated.
“Look at the ages of the people who were gunned down yesterday (Saturday) in La Canoa. I know that some of you might not even be paying attention to the story, because you’re fed up of the violence.
“But to fix the young people like my Denzel and the other youths in the community, the other Denzels, that will make the difference in TT in the future. We have neglected them over the years and they turned out to be some monsters because when you can go and rob the priest in Tarouba and tie him up....
“For me, whether I am in or out of the Police Service, I will continue to work with the young ones. Whether they are in the youth clubs, the youth groups or the junior football teams, I will be there. But I beseech you, also try to work with some of those young ones, they may be your grandsons or your neighbour’s children. Whatever little we can do, just do it so we can turn this place around.”
Williams also urged adults to exercise caution as they try and engage young people, as some attempts at mentorship can be mistaken as inappropriate, but said such guidance was increasingly necessary.
He said there was a need to address the issues facing youths as a united society and told members of the association that investing in the future of young people may save them from being robbed by neglected youths.
“The pension and gratuity that you’re working towards will be safer from one of those young people reaching out and robbing you, so you are investing in your own well-being by investing in the lives of those youths.”