Police Week 2018 | Red Hills residents, police enjoy solid relationship, says inspector
When Inspector Davon Shirley was placed in charge of the Red Hills Police Station in St Andrew North more than five years ago, residents who wished to host constant parties without respect for the Noise Abatement Act did not see eye to eye with him.
But the once confrontational encounters are now a thing of the past, and residents are now realising that he is there to serve all.
Shirley pointed out that from the roughly 25,000 persons his team is responsible for protecting and serving, 20 WhatsApp groups have been created by residents to facilitate good relations and information sharing.
"People used to think it was a free-for-all, until I told them that the law makes provision for people to enjoy themselves, but also makes provision for persons to get sleep. There used to be stand-off until they realised I wasn't trying to set law, but enforce it," he told The Gleaner.
"Throughout Red Hills, there are roughly 60 bars, and almost every one of those persons is involved in a round robin. You have round robin in Red Hills every single night. I let them know that they can keep their round robin, but it has to be within licensed premises and you have to respect the lock-off time, and they have warmed up to the idea."
Shirley boasts of being a "household name" in Red Hills, especially among children. Something else he is proud of is that there have only been two murders since the start of the year, compared to 11 last year.
However, he is particularly concerned about the number of adults who have sex with children and the influx of criminals into the area.
"The main crime here is sexual offences. We have a problem with adults having sex with persons under 16. Sadly, some of the parents uphold it. One of the challenges, too, is that we have a number of migrant criminals up here from everywhere in the island. They don't come up here and give trouble, but we still have to go and look for them," he said.
"In 2014, there was a quadruple murder in Bog Walk. We caught the alleged killer up here and he is before the court. Gratiano Green, who was charged for killing a policeman in west Kingston, was also caught up here. Even people from MoBay have been caught up here."
The inspector continued, "Mr Shirley is a household name though, be it positive or negative. Testament to that are the schoolchildren. One morning around 6, I was on operation and moving towards the target. There was a four-year-old boy in underwear alone, running towards me happily shouting, 'Mr Shirley, Mr Shirley, Mr Shirley.' I need not say that I didn't catch the man we went for," Shirley recalled with laughter.
Despite the odds, Shirley is pleased with the support from community members who depend on him and his team for constant security. Community members pool resources and usually collaborate on Labour Day to ensure important fixtures are installed and painting is done. Additionally, numerous activities are held to raise funds to send children to school.
The inspector also assists persons in need of written recommendations.