Sun | Oct 21, 2018

Clarendon not that bad! Neighbourhood watch president says some communities safe, informer fi dead culture hurting others

Published:Monday | June 1, 2015 | 11:04 PM


MAY PEN, Clarendon:

RUDOLPH MOORE, president of the National Neighbourhood Watch Movement has said the 'informer fi dead' culture is hurting some communities in Clarendon. However, he cautioned against making the problem of crime in the parish bigger than it actually is.

Up to May 21, the parish recorded 42 murders. This figure is nine more than that committed over the corresponding period last year.

"Crime and violence taking over Jamaica. But in the context of Clarendon, it's not as bad as it is being reported," Moore told The Gleaner.

Moore was speaking on the heels of April's gun-slaughtering of a man and three teenagers in the Monymusk Housing Scheme in Hayes, a generally peaceful community in the parish.

"For the areas that we have the movement, they are seeing reductions in crime because we look out for these things. We are the set of people who are not afraid to go to the police," said Moore, admitting, however, that still there are some Clarendon communities where the 'informa fi dead' culture still thrives.

It is this view that has caused many communities in Clarendon to shun neighbourhood watch-type activities, he said.

"Each of the neighbourhood watches in our movement has a police coordinator and that coordinator brings the resources of the police into the affected areas and work with the residents to deal with the crime," Moore explained.

"A lot of people think that the movement is either dead or for old people. That is not so because of that we encourage our watches to employ different types of programmes that will attract different types of people," he said, explaining that one strategy is to partner with existing youth groups in the communities.

Of the some 700 registered neighbourhood watches in Jamaica, only 45 per cent are active, said the president. Clarendon has 30 watches and a fraction of these are also dormant, he explained.

Among the communities with active neighbourhood watches are Glenmore Heights, Mineral Heights, Sandy Bay, Four Paths and New Bowens, listed Moore, describing these are the more peaceful communities in the parish. The Monymusk Housing Scheme does not have an active neighbourhood watch, he added.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Carol McKenzie, head of police operations in Clarendon, lauded the efforts of the neighbourhood watches in the parish, explaining that they give residents a sense of empowerment over criminals. Inspector Owen Brown, sub-officer admits that every community has safety issues and challenges - some more than others.

While admitting that it is hard to think of a 'safe place', he highlighted the dramatic turnaround of one community that was seen as one of the hot spots for crime and violence in the parish.

Up until 2013, York Town was plagued with violent crimes, almost daily. It was a place that many visitors would have to think twice before entering. It reached an alarming rate when five people were shot - including a five-year-old child - and their house torched. It was at this point that Brown said the force knew it was time to tackle the problem.

The answer was the Proactive Violence Interruption Strategy where the police took a collaborative approach and teamed up with various community organisations and agencies such as the Social Development Commission, Northern Caribbean University as well as member of parliaments, the mayor and various councillors.

"They came down in droves and we walked in the area, went from house to house and had interactions with residents," said Brown.

Several workshops were held on conflict resolutions as well as other issues.

The Clarendon Crime Prevention Committee also played its part by bushing the area. This ensured that residents in the community felt safe in their daily commute.

This according to Brown, had a tremendous impact on the York Town community, so much so that for an entire year, there was not a single report of any criminal activity in the area.

"That's a model which we intend to use for the other communities," he said.