Warrenville residents complain of poor police service

MY CONCERNS: Kamla Phagoo raises a point during a police town meeting on Wednesday evening at the Warrenville Regional Complex. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB -
MY CONCERNS: Kamla Phagoo raises a point during a police town meeting on Wednesday evening at the Warrenville Regional Complex. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB -

Police customer service, visibility, and parenting were some of the main topics of discussion at a town meeting hosted by the Cunupia Police Station at the Warrenville Regional Complex on Wednesday night.

In his opening address, Central Division senior superintendent Michael Pierre appealed to the residents to work with the police in fighting crime. He asked people to think about how they could partner with the police to make their environment a safer place.

Pierre said a lack of proper parenting was a contributing factor to crime, and many residents agreed.

Warrenville Presbyterian Church chairman Kenneth Ramhai said police visibility was low in the area and the residents needed to see more patrols to feel safe and to deter criminals. He said the police needed to police who they admitted to their ranks.

“The police need to have better intelligence. Right now there are over 1,000 officers before the courts and it tells a bad story. The intelligence unit isn’t doing its job. Also, when you call the police to report a crime, they will tell you they don’t have a vehicle. Anything you want to get done, you have to appeal to those higher up.”

Another resident said if police officers were found to be involved in criminal activities, they should be fired immediately, and if they found it was unjust, they should take it up with the Industrial Court.

Anthony Harper makes a forceful point during the police town hall meeting.
Anthony Harper makes a forceful point during the police town hall meeting. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB -

Pierre said the figures being quoted were wildly inaccurate. He said however it did show that the service was not hesitant to purge itself.

“If we have police officers engaging in criminal activity, we will put them before the courts. If there are people doing illegal activities, we will arrest them. Those are choices that people make.”

He said he understood the wish for more visibility and a plan was being worked on for the Cunupia area.

“It is something we have been working on. Our first priority is presence, and we know we are not as visible as you would like us to be, although I will say we have both marked and unmarked vehicles, so sometimes we are present and you wouldn’t see us.”

Caroni East alderman Chandricka Sookdeo, following a presentation by the Fire Service, recommended building plans be run through the service for approval in addition to Town and Country Planning and WASA.

He shared an incident where he had gone to the police station when there were two officers on duty and was told that neither of them could leave the station as there had to be two people on duty at all times.

Pierre said response has commonly been a sore point, and the officers who turned people away were doing foolishness.

FACING QUESTIONS: From left, Snr Supt Intab Ramjohn, Snr Supt Michael Pierre and ASP Mukesh Dipchand listen to queries raised by residents at a police town meeting on Wednesday night at the Warrenville Regional Complex. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB 

“We have an open door policy which means you’re supposed to be able to make a report at any police station and it would be actioned. If you go to one police station and they are deficient in manpower, they should be able to call on another station to action the report. We also have an emergency response patrol. I guarantee you Central division does not have a section or a station without a vehicle, and the officers should know better than to say that.”

Caroni East constituency office employee Kamla Phagoo asked whether citizens were allowed to use their private vehicles to take police to scenes, as often they were told there were not enough vehicles in the station.

Pierre said this was not advisable as the service and the officers would not want to be responsible or carry grievous news to families if something happened to citizens while the police were carrying out their duties.

Another resident said Pierre was operating under a false premise, that the residents were not willing to work with the police. He said when he attempted to report trucks breaking the law, he was laughed and told, “leave that for younger people and enjoy your retirement.”

He asked whether the police were monitoring the media for complaints and suggested that town hall meetings be held more often.

One resident said people should be careful saying things in the open at the meeting. He said he had reported an incident to the police and by the next morning the person he reported came to his house and threatened him.

Another resident asked for assistance in moving shacks with squatters and addicts from the front of the community’s schools.

An obviously distraught teacher said the police should set up a community page and give residents a way to keep in touch with the police and each other. She described incidents of hearing burglars on her roof and trying to come through her door when they thought no-one was in the house. She said recently she was woken by gunshots.

“We are afraid to leave home, we lock up in the night. We’ve developed systems for every type of intrusion. We are living in fear. Setting up something like this can assist us in feeling safer.”

Farmer Marlon Mathura speaks his mind at the police town meeting on Wednesday evening.
Farmer Marlon Mathura speaks his mind at the police town meeting on Wednesday evening. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB -

Marlon Mathura of the Jerningham Farmers’ Association said the farmers in the area were being robbed and could not get help from the Praedial Larceny Squad. He said when calls were made to the police, many times they did not know the area.

Prison youth club coordinator Stuart Bell said while he understood a lack of parenting was a problem, “how are you still blaming parents for the actions of 20 and 30-year-olds? We keep moving goalposts depending on the person’s situation. If something is wrong, it is wrong, and the consequences should be the same for everyone, rich or poor. We like to follow, so we need to follow countries that put high-up people in jail. Until police can gain the independence to do that, we will continue to not get anywhere in dealing with crime.”

Assistant Superintendent Area North Mukesh Dipchand said he did not blame residents for bashing the police. He said he’d received a poor response from the police when his home was invaded, but that did not mean there were not good officers. He asked residents to develop a rapport with officers, if not the ones in the station, the ones they knew from their everyday lives.


"Warrenville residents complain of poor police service"

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