Sat | Feb 17, 2018

Cops rejuvenate relationship with Tivoli residents with community activities

Published:Monday | December 25, 2017 | 12:45 AMJason Cross
Corporal Tabian Anderson of the Jamaica Constabulary Force band, heads the ball back into play during a game with residents at the Tivoli Gardens Community Centre in west Kingston last Wednesday.

A deliberate attempt to heal the broken relationship between the police and the community of Tivoli Gardens, west Kingston led to a day of fun filled activities inside the community last Wednesday, as lawmen and residents got a chance to explore and enjoy different sides of each other.

This was made possible through the Social Development Commission’s Rejuvenating Communities project, which is funded by the United Nations Development Project (UNDP), and covers other communities such as Denham Town and Fletcher’s Land.

Wednesday’s focus however, was on Tivoli Gardens. The event  was staged beside the Tivoli Gardens police post.

Judith Taylor, coordinator of the Rejuvenating Communities Project, told The Gleaner that the aim was to demonstrate that there is much more to the police than aggression.

“We are showcasing different units within the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) so residents can appreciate that there is much more to the JCF than just operations," Taylor said.

"We have the JCF band, CISOCA (the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse), the Marine Police, the mounted troops, the Canine Division and the police training school. We are here because we have a joint police community committee which was formed in 2014. What we are doing is implementing one of the action plans.”

She added: “This intervention is really geared towards cementing good relationships where they exist, and where they do not exist, we are hoping that good relationships are birth out of this. Apart from displays, we have games between the residents and the police, friendly rivalry. We have also a domino competition. The JCF band also challenges the Tivoli Gardens marching band. We also have a football juggling competition. I see where they (police and residents) have an amicable relationship.” 

Shikara Dockery, president of the Tivoli Gardens Police Youth Club, described the event as very important, especially when she reflected on how traumatic her experience was during the 2010 police-military operation in Tivoli.

At the time, the police were reported to have shown very little compassion and respect to resident and last week Dockery said she would never want to relive such an experience.

"I was here during the incursion, and it was the most traumatic experience in my life. I wish never to have to go through anything like that again," she said.

"It annoys me whenever I go out somewhere, maybe at a workshop or something, persons would be like, 'oh, you’re from Tivoli Gardens?', and the first thing they want to talk about is the incursion."

She added: "The experience is not something I want to be rehashing everyday or every time you meet somebody. It makes it difficult. This (initiative) is very important. It makes a big difference because at least people can see that the community is coming back in a sense. Believe me, there is no violence in Tivoli Gardens. We once had a zero per cent crime rate and it is going back there. We only have the regular domestic violence, persons arguing and stuff.” 

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com