ACP vows: Police will reclaim neighbourhoods from gangs
Head of the Northern Division ACP Wayne Mystar admits gangs are a problem in securing certain neighbourhoods, but has vowed to take immediate action by wresting communities from gangs.
Speaking with reporters during a community walkabout in Arouca on Friday, Mystar said eradicating gangs was one of the main priorities in the area.
He said in addition to patrols, searches and other anti-crime exercises, the walkabout was intended to restore the public's confidence in the police and build a better rapport with residents.
Referring to the precision policing strategy initiated by Police Commissioner Erla Christopher, Mystar said the police would gather intelligence on priority offenders and maintain a presence in communities where they were needed most.
He said that the police were determined to take back communities from criminals and called for the public's support.
"There is a challenge as it relates to gang activity, so we have been gathering a lot of intelligence to deal with the gangs in that particular area.
"This exercise is also to let the public know that we are reclaiming these areas that the gangs want to claim, and our main priority is to ensure that we bring security and safety to members of the community. So this is just the start of a lot of different things that we're going to be doing.
"Precision policing means paying attention to those high-priority offenders. It's not much, but we are gathering as much intelligence and evidence (as possible) so we can put together proper cases so we can put them before the courts."
The Arouca police station district is part of the North Central Division, which extends from St Joseph to Arouca.
The police Crime and Problem Analysis (CAPA) branch reported that there were 100 SRCs in Arouca between January 1 to March 16, 2023, compared to 101 for the same period last year.
From January 1-February 25, there have been 210 serious reported crimes (SRCs) there, compared to 236 for the same period last year.
Mystar said some of the crimes the police were most concerned about in Arouca were murders, woundings, shootings, robberies and car thefts.
Mystar and a team of almost 100 officers walked from the Arouca Police Station at Five Rivers Junction to the Five Rivers Government Secondary School, where he told teachers and principals about the continued commitment of the police to securing staff and students.
Speaking with reporters after the meeting, Mystar said another focus would be to quell school violence, outlining a combination of hard and soft initiatives to reduce fights in and out of school.
"I am in the process of assigning police officers for schools. So we will have that particular officer adopting a school, and that police officer will go to that school to work with the principals and the deans to bring meaningful solutions to end school violence like bullying and so on. So that particular programme will start as early as next week.
"When this school is over, (the students) tend to assemble right on the Arouca Junction, which is where the Arouca police station is, so the officers have been instructed that when school is over, no gathering will be allowed in that particular junction, which would have encouraged violence and so on.
"So once they come down there, the officers will be on the ground to ensure they go to their homes."
Mystar urged students to avoid conflicts and also warned parents to avoid taking matters into their own hands in response to bullying, as they too could face criminal charges.
"If you have issues with your children, the police available. You can come to us and ask for our assistance. We have our community policing officers who can work with them, we have our Victim and Witness Support Unit and we have our Child Protection Unit who can work with these children. But we are asking parents to seek that help.
"We are also asking parents not to engage in what we call vigilante justice on their own. We saw a parent went to a school and that went very messy."
During the walkabout the police visited Spring Road, Arouca and spoke with several residents on their concerns and thoughts.
They also questioned a man about his car, which had no certificate of insurance. It was towed to the Arouca police station for further enquiries.
"ACP vows: Police will reclaim neighbourhoods from gangs"