Peace - Custos of Portland confident parish will retain status as safest in island
Custos of Portland Lincoln Thaxter is confident that the parish will retain its status as being the safest in the island despite a 150 per cent increase in murders so far this year when compared to the same period last year.
With just five murders so far this year, Portland remains among the parishes with the fewest murders. But some residents have expressed concern that at this time last year, only two murders had occurred in the parish.
Thaxter told The Gleaner that while the incidents of murder might appear to be a reason for concern, the future was bright for Portland as the residents possessed a caring attitude for each other and were always vigilant.
"We have managed to maintain a low crime rate through good relations among community residents," said Thaxter.
"People are familiar with each other, and there is the issue of real community value, where they look out for each other. Strange persons or suspicious activities are reported to the police, who enjoy an excellent relationship with residents," said the custos. "This kind of caring attitude is replicated in most communities throughout this parish," he added.
According to Thaxter, the police Community Safety and Security Branch is very active throughout the parish, with its members providing inspirational talks and workshops to help Portlanders learn how best to settle disputes peacefully.
The custos argued that while the unattached youth possessed some level of problems in the parish, most remained under the umbrella of the family structure, which, to some extent, helped them to maintain good values and attitudes.
"We are now focusing on restorative justice to stem crime among the youth at the Portland Justice Centre. Children who run afoul of the law, with the exception of murder and other serious crimes, are sent here so that the proper counselling session can take place.
"They undergo counselling and are, therefore, kept out of lock-ups. Domestic violence is one of the main contributory factors to the increase in the crime rate in this parish, but in my own estimation, unemployment also contributes heavily to crime in this peaceful parish," said Thaxter.
We need to be careful that we don't become the west - Custos
There is no place for bad men and badness in the eastern Jamaica parish of Portland.
This is what Lincoln Thaxter, custos of Portland, told The Gleaner that the parish had no identifiable crime hot spots.
According to Thaxter, although the gun has figured heavily in most of the crimes committed in the parish, this was not an issue and there was nowhere for migrant criminals to hide.
"Unlike Montego Bay (St James), we have the luxury of community residents knowing each other. What is normal for Montego Bay is abnormal for us," said Thaxter.
"Yes, there are parishes in the west that once enjoyed a crime-free status like us, but over time, they have been transformed into a breeding ground for criminals," said Thaxter. "We, too, need to be careful and to provide the police with the necessary information for them to act or respond to any such threat," the custos stated from his new office at the Buff Bay Courthouse.
Proper parenting keeping Portland community peaceful
Residents of Clear Spring in east Portland are adamant that proper parenting has played a key role in keeping their community relatively crime-free throughout the years.
But they are now worried that social challenges threaten to pull youngsters the wrong way.
"We need more jobs in here. That is the thing. Because if all the youths have something to do, then none of them will be on the road idling. Them need some jobs where they can go and learn," said Joe, a resident of the sleepy district.
"You have good parents here, and that helps because a man not going to see another man child doing wrong and don't do anything. That is one thing with here. But we still want something for them (youths) to do," continued Joe, as 'Brown Man', another customer in a small bar in Clear Spring on Monday, chimed in.
"Back in my days, children used to be afraid to do bad things in the community. That still goes on, but things are slowly changing now," said Brown Man.
"Now, if a boy does something and you see and beat him, is war the parents want to war. It cannot work so. That is why some of the youths get themselves into trouble," he lamented.