St Elizabeth cops stem violence caused by domestic disputes
Many times, acts of crime and violence stem from unresolved domestic issues.
As a result, the Community Safety and Security Branch of the St Elizabeth Police has put measures in place to deal with domestic issues before they escalate.
The Community Safety and Security Branch coordinator for the parish, Woman Corporal Shennion Duncan, said the branch is based at the Black River station with liaison officers at police stations across the parish.
"From the Community Safety and Security Branch, we are [tasked] by our commanding officer, [Superintendent] Lansford Salmon, to monitor all threats and disputes reported to the 11 stations across the parish on a weekly basis, especially those [with] the potential to escalate into violence. Whenever reports of threat or dispute come into the station, they are [asked] to make every effort to warn these persons and to try and settle disputes," said Duncan.
"The branch then does a follow-up by visiting the homes of individuals involved and sit and have one-on-one conversations in an effort to arrive at an amicable solution for both parties. The information received is treated with confidentiality. We also develop a relationship with these persons where we continue to visit even after the disputes have been settled, hence the minimal number of domestic-violence cases," Duncan told The Gleaner.
She said there are plans to have community meetings with various stakeholders in the communities across the parish soon.
"We have also implemented a series of community meetings for the 11 stations to speak with community members on domestic disputes as well as human trafficking," she explained.
DECLINE IN DISTURBANCES
So far, she said, there has been a decline in murders in the parish and fewer domestic disturbances have been escalating into acts of violence.
"Based on our statistics, we are experiencing a decline in murders, as we are seeing six less murders when compared to the corresponding period [last year]. Our statistics have also shown that it is a small percentage of the threats and disputes reported to us that actually escalate into domestic violence, hence the measures implemented," she said.
Duncan said the major crimes affecting the parish now are break-in, robbery and aggravated assault, which has had a slight increase in numbers. She noted, however, that measures have been put in place to combat that situation.
Duncan said while there has been an increase in the cases of violence against children in other parishes, this was not the case in St Elizabeth, and the branch is continuing its efforts to ensure it remains so.
"We do not get a lot of complaints in terms of violence against children. However, it is a concern for us as it is affecting other children across the island, hence the Community Safety and Security Branch continues, through our Safe Schools Programme, to lecture students and parents on proper parenting; sexual offences, in terms of what to do or who to speak to if they are affected; ways to protect themselves; as well as [encourage them] to report to the police any form of violence that affects them," she added.
The Community Safety and Security Branch is also actively involved in community outreach activities across the parish, Duncan told The Gleaner.
"We also look at situations
where, from time to time, we identify needy students as well as community members who find themselves in challenging situations and embark on projects - in collaboration with our police youth clubs and our neighbourhood watches - aimed at improving their standard of living.
"Some of these projects include building houses, repainting and renovating schools, contributing to breakfast programmes, and sponsoring students by providing lunches, uniforms, et cetera. The division does an average of 35 school visits on a weekly basis," the corporal explained.
To contact the Community Safety and Security Branch of the St Elizabeth Police, call 634-1231, 435-1002, 886-6771, 437-4951, 465-4508 or 868-9994.